Nearly 3 million Medicaid enrollments under Obamacare still haven’t been processed, a new report says.
That’s mostly due to technical or bureaucratic snags — as well as a surge in applications — according to the analysis by Roll Call. Problems remain from the botched fall rollout of HealthCare.gov, and leave millions of vulnerable low-income Americans without access to care.
Roll Call published the article, “The hidden failure of Obama’s health care overhaul,” Tuesday.
CQ Roll Call surveyed all 50 states, and heard back from 41 of them. The problems are evident most in three states: California, North Carolina and Illinois, where almost 1.5 million Medicaid applicants remain in limbo, according to the report.
In the 36 states where residents signed up through HealthCare.gov, 1.4 million people faced delays because the website was unable for months to transmit the information to states, according to the report. Still, once states received data, it was often incomplete, incorrect or missing applications. In those cases, applicants were asked to resubmit applications and officials sorted through them by hand, Roll Call reported.
Problems aren’t just due to HealthCare.gov. States that ran their own exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act still are experiencing a backlog of applicants and suffering from technical issues. For example, in California, officials reported more than 900,000 applicants in their state are still waiting for benefit cards or denial letters.
States are supposed to process Medicaid applications within 45 days, but many states are far past the deadline. Some paperwork has been sitting since the fall.
PPACA supporters note that Medicaid benefits are retroactive, meaning if an eligible person received care while waiting to be enrolled, the program would pay for services dating back 90 days before the person applied.
Still, problems are hurting low-income patients with Roll Call reporting that as a result of the backlog, some “are being prevented from accessing benefits they are legally entitled to receive. Those who face delays may instead put off doctors appointments and lose access to their medicines, complicating their medical conditions and increasing the eventual cost to U.S. taxpayers.”
On Wednesday, the Obama administration said enrollments in Medicaid under the law surged to 6 million by the end of April. They praised the increase in sign up as a result of PPACA, saying enrollment grew by 15.3 percent over the pre-PPACA rates.
HHS did not address the Roll Call state report, or any Medicaid applications backlogs, in its blog post.