We must put pressure on the Social Security Administration(SSA) to allow Obamacare Application Helpers to use the empty workstations in all 1300 offices nationwide. They total 6,000 to 10,000, altogether they are worth up to $200 million, and they are unused due to staffing losses. This would be a win-win for HHS and SSA as SSA is paying for office space they are not using and managers do not want to see dozens of local SSA offices shut down. Having Navigators in all 1300 SSA offices would make more efficient use of office space and equipment that has already been paid for and it would give HHS one simple location in most communities that is more trusted than any other agency. This would greatly simplify national PSA'a - just tell citizens to visit their local SSA office.
We only have this one chance in the history of America to get Obamacare right. Lives are at stake and we cannot afford to fail.
ACA customer service may be doomed as there are too many middle men. HHS gives grants to the states, the states give grants to statewide organizations who in turn contract with local organizations to be navigators. There are thousands of different ways this is being handled across the states. There should be at least 1 to 5 navigators stationed in each of the 1300 offices nationwide to help ACA consumers walk through the complex process especially those who are not able to use the 800 numbers or the websites. It would reduce the confusion and the possibility of scams. This is too disjointed and waters down getting the word out and the work done. Citizens in our 4 county area have no idea how to contact an ACA Navigator. I am also concerned about non-profit non-government staff having access to our personal data and who do we contact when we have a problem with the insurance companies. The office space in the 1300 field offices is free.
CMS should hire federal employees to work in all SSA offices to be navigators or let navigators from local organizations use this office space. ACA clients will need ongoing help making decisions about providers and claims problems which may be too much for third level contractors to handle. ACA customers will need to report when their income & assets change during the year. SSA has lost 10% of staff in last 3 years. Due to attrition, each of these 1300 offices have 3 to 10 empty workstations that could be used in mornings & afternoons. That 's between 4,000 & 10,000 free workstations. Having two shifts of white collar employees in each of the 1300 Social Security offices would allow us to serve navigators to use 10 to 30 workstations during the evenings to serve ACA customers. The navigators could also bring their own laptops. SSA staff could still use those workstations during the day to serve SSA customers. When Medicare first started, SSA offices had to be open at night and on the weekends to get everyone enrolled. We must be successful in the roll-out of customer service for the Affordable Care Act. The only reason that the roll-out of Medicare was successful is that there was one place for citizens to go in each community to get help and sign up, their local Social Security office. In addition, ACA will have a larger customer base than Medicare.
SSA has office space for 5000 ppl times annual overhead cost of $24,000 each/year = $120 million/yr wasted if not used by
The most important event in our generation that shows the need for good federal customer service is the roll-out of Obamacare on 10/1/13. If we get it wrong it could be catastrophic and millions would miss out on the health insurance they need. This affects too many people and it is too complex of a culture change to limit customer service to the internet and 800# call centers. I would not buy a car or a house that way. Many citizens want or need face-to-face customer service. The Social Security Administration serves millions by the internet and about 56 million by telephone. However, they still had 45 million visitors that came in for face-to-face service. Some individuals cannot verify their identity via the internet or communicate over the telephone.