HealthCare.gov Meeting Notes: “Paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward”

November 4, 2013

Notes state, “At the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue”

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today released new HealthCare.gov meeting notes taken on 10/11/13 that state, “[t]he paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward in the process and provides another option; at the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue.”

Notes taken during “War Room” meetings with Administration officials repeatedly mention problems with the paper applications that people were encouraged to use in lieu of the non-functional HealthCare.gov website. The documents were produced in response to a Committee request sent to 11 of the top contractors involved in the HealthCare.gov roll out.

Just days after the website launch, on 10/3/13, the notes raise the question of paper applications, saying, “Given the computer system issues, should we be saying that paper is better for now? Should assisters who are sitting with consumers use paper? Proposal: Raise the paper application issue at the group director meeting.” In the Overview, the notes say, “Navigator issue: they should not be told to use paper applications until there is approval from leadership[.]”

Notes taken at the 10/11/13 meeting state, “The same portal is used to determine eligibility no matter how the application is submitted (paper, online)…. The paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward in the process and provides another option; at the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue.”

Four days later, at the 10/15/13 meeting, the notes state, “Navigators are seeing people very frustrated and walking away, so they are turning to paper applications to protect their reputations as people in the communities who can help, even though paper applications will not have a quicker result necessarily.”

However, by 10/21/13, according to the notes, “[W]e are to instruct Navigators to use paper applications rather than go through the call center.” That same day, President Barack Obama in his Rose Garden address on the problems with HealthCare.gov told Americans they could use paper applications. “[W]e updated the website’s home page to offer more information about the other avenues to enroll in affordable health care until the online option works for everybody,” the president said. “So you’ll find information about how to talk to a specialist who can help you apply over the phone or to receive a downloadable application you can fill out yourself and mail in.”

The 10/21 notes also state that Serco, one of the contractors, “had over 3,000 applications submitted by the end of last week in paper form.”

You can read the “War Room” notes taken between 10/3-10/21 here.

 

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