Horrible but Secret Processing Delays of Obamacare Paper Apps: HHS should tell the truth

Obamacare Customers Can File Appeals if They Miss 12/23 Deadline Due to Government Incompetence and Inaction See www.obamacarerundown.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Written Submission for Hearing on the Status of the Affordable Care Act Implementation by House Ways and Means Committee‏

October 29, 2013

Public Submission For The Record by a Private Citizen for

Hearing on the Status of the Affordable Care Act Implementation

The Honorable David Camp
Committee on Ways and Means
1102 Longworth House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515

Fax: 202-225-2610
Subject: Low Cost Plan to Greatly Improve Customer Service for Obamacare
Dear Congressman David Camp:
Feel free to contact me anytime for more details or to answer questions.  Please let me know if you plan any hearings in the future on ACA customer service.  I would like to contribute and/or testify.

I retired from the Social Security Office in West Branch, MI in January of this year.  I worked 17 years as a claims representative and 17 years as a field office manager.   I submitted the plan shown below to Senators Stabenow and Levin.  Please note that I had a telephone conference call to explain this proposal on July 19, 2013 with Claire Green and her staff at the Social Security Advisory Board.  www.ssab.gov 

Local and National Social Security Offices (SSA) have been referring individuals to 1-800-318-2596. I called this number and asked how I could find an ACA Navigator for Ogemaw County MI, where I live. They look some stuff up and they asked me to call thewww.michigan.gov/DFIS 
at 1-877-999-2596. They told me to call 800-318-2596. I told them that's the number that told me to call DFIS.

Citizens in our four county area have no idea how to contact an ACA Navigator. There is no Navigator for Ogemaw county where I live.  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 across the nation are available for free. 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. The result is four layers of bureaucracy and four layers of overhead. 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 during the day 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. 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.

HHS should hire federal employees or contract 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 (desks, phones, and computers) that could be used in the 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 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 but SSA got the job done. 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. 

Placing navigators and application helpers in SSA offices could be done within 30 days. This would rebuild confidence in Obamacare.  It will help people believe that it will be just as good as Medicare.  This action could help make up for the confusion and frustration citizens are experiencing when trying to use Healthcare.gov


SSA has office space for 5000 people times annual overhead cost of $24,000 each/year = $120 million per year wasted if not used by ACA navigators.  SSA has office space for over 25,000 available in evenings times $24,000 per  year = another $600 million wasted if not used ACA navigators. Total savings if ACA workers use space already paid for by Social Security Offices = $720million/yr times 10yrs= $7 BILLION. If federal government saves this much it might pay for a single payer plan.

The most important event in our generation that shows the need for good federal customer service is the roll-out of Obamacare.  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.    Most people would not buy a car or a house via the internet or an 800 number. 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 last year.  Due to technical and/or physical limitations, some individuals have no secure access to the internet, some cannot verify their identity via the internet and/or communicate over the telephone.  Some individuals will need a relative or other concerned person appointed to help them make healthcare and health insurance decisions.  This could be patterned after the Representative Payee system used to track payees and guardians for Social Security beneficiaries.
For a plan to add 2nd shift of employees at other agencies see:


Timothy A. Albright
989-701-8813 Cell

 Email: timalantoo@hotmail.com

CC: The Honorable Debbie Stabenow

          The Honorable Carl Levin

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