Reporters question error form answers

By BenefitsPro

By Allison Bell

Obama administration officials are starting to draw angry questions from reporters by refusing to even try to estimate how many enrollment forms are going out, or how many of them are right. and the enrollment sites for state-based public exchanges are supposed to send out “834 Initial Enrollment Notification” transaction notices when consumers enroll.

Carriers have reported a high percentage of the 834s seem to be inaccurate, because of problems with the information consumers have entered, information from other sources, or programming errors.

Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, reported Monday during a conference call with reporters that one new fix – with Social Security numbers – eliminated 80 percent of the mistakes.

But Bataille then refused to answer questions from several reporters about how CMS arrived at the number. Bataille continued to refuse to answer questions about 834 form numbers during media calls Tuesday and Wednesday.

The issue boiled over into Thursday during a White House press briefing, when a reporter told White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, “CMS, in these daily calls, is still very opaque.”

The reporter complained CMS is providing “no information whatsoever” about the magnitude of the 834 problem and asked why the administration is being so reticent.

Carney replied, “To collect data on it is not necessarily as simple as what’s the error rate for this broad array of or series of small problems that may have affected 834 forms. What we know is that there were significant problems with the whole website.”

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