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Archive for Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Kansas officials on new health exchange: Be patient

October 1, 2013

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— The online insurance marketplace for Kansas could not fully handle the crush of consumers who hit the federally run exchange when enrollment opened Tuesday, but the technological glitches were not unexpected as not only the website but the program itself tried to keep up with demand.

On the first day of the six-month open enrollment period, advocates in Kansas were struggling to implement their own portion of the nation's biggest health care coverage expansion in 50 years. The latest U.S. Census bureau estimates that about 358,000 Kansans have no health insurance.

The Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, the lead agency for the rollout in Kansas, said it had 60 health care navigators or certified application counselors — the program's front-line guides for the new system — across the state ready to work on the first day of enrollment. Another 200 to 225 more were still undergoing training to work, said KAMU spokeswoman Katrina McGivern. Six of those were bilingual in Spanish, and one person knew sign language.

In Lawrence, Rosilyn Wells, a navigator at Heartland Community Health Center, said Tuesday afternoon that she hadn't been able to access the marketplace website, HealthCare.gov, the entire day.

At GraceMed Health Clinic in Wichita, a steady stream of people came showed up for one-on-one sessions with Juven Nava, one of the clinic's two navigators. The clinic has a grant that will allow it to hire two more navigators. By mid-day Tuesday, Nava had seen eight people at the clinic and taken about a dozen phone calls from people seeking to enroll in the state's health insurance exchange.

But Nava has been unable to sign up a single person for insurance coverage. Sometimes he can't even log into the website to sign them up, sometimes the online exchange kicks him off.

"We tell them that with everything there is going to be some glitches," he said. "There is always going to be some bumps, but it is going to get better."

GraceMed's chief executive, Dave Sandford, said that when he tried to get access to the site he got a message to wait because of the high volume, but after waiting 10 minutes he was kicked off. He does not think anything could have been done to handle the significant volume of calls the site was going to get on day one.

"There are probably a lot of folks like me, who already have health insurance, that are just trying to log on to see how it works," Sandford said. "I am probably compounding the problem."

At the Shawnee County Health Agency in Topeka, enrollment coordinator Paige Ashley said she too couldn't obtain the online login she needed to purchase coverage on the site. She was advising people who were calling her to set up appointments to wait at least next week.

Consumers won't start incurring tax penalties for not having coverage until after March 31 of next year and have until Dec. 15 if they want their coverage to start in January.

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a Republican who's been a vocal critic of the health care overhaul, said he tried unsuccessfully 20 times to get into the exchange. Huelskamp, who represents the sprawling and GOP-leaning 1st District of western and central Kansas, said he's been unable to even create the account that would allow him to purchase insurance. Members of Congress are required by the Affordable Care Act to use the exchange.

"It's not ready to go," he said during an interview. "It's not a glitch. When you can't get online — it's a 'fail.'"

The federal government is running Kansas' exchange because Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and the GOP leaders of the Legislature have resisted implementing the Affordable Care Act since its passage three years ago. They have argued that it represents a costly expansion of government.

Manuela Oroteza, a 48-year-old cook at Wichita State University, said she was eager to see if she could afford health care through the new exchange. Her family lives off her $10-per-hour salary and can't afford the coverage the school offers its employees. "The thing is, I don't make that much money and then between taxes and the insurance my paycheck will not be enough to cover my expenses," she said.

As has been the case in many other Republican-led states, Brownback and Kansas' Republican legislative leaders have left it to the federal government to set up the Kansas exchange. In 2011, Brownback refused a $31.5 million federal grant that would have gone toward setting up the computer infrastructure for Kansas' exchange. It also would have funded a $10 million public education campaign that Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger had planned.

—Journal-World reporter Giles Bruce and Associated Press writer John Hanna contributed to this story

Comments

BitterClinger 1 year, 2 months ago

They've had 4 years to get ready for today. It's not like they just found out last week or last month or even last year that TODAY was going to happen.

Defund it then repeal it. It's only going to get worse.

Sparko 1 year, 2 months ago

For four years republicans have been trying to block this and denying funding to prepare for its implementation. Promote the General Welfare. We have a lot of Kansans without medical care, and you cite its popularity as grounds to eliminate it. Pretty unChristian idea to ignore the needs of others.

Sparko 1 year, 2 months ago

A. That is the old Testament, Christ came with a new Word. Second, the poor are our business, "Do unto others." There are Kansans who need medical care and medicine. This is a step in the right direction. But being selfish is easy--better look inward and fix that.

Liberty275 1 year, 2 months ago

"Promote the General Welfare."

There is nothing general about me, my health or my insurance. General welfare means the well-being of the American society as a whole. It say's nothing about protecting any individual from anything. Individual rights are well spelled out, even if the commas are sometimes in weird places.

The first congress came right out and said with no qualms I have the right to not incriminate myself. They didn't mumble it. They didn't make me stretch the dictionary to describe that right.

Why didn't they do the same thing about something concerning the individuals right to health. It could go like this:

Amendment XI: Every American will be provided equal heath care regardless of their ability to pay.

They have amended the constitution 20-something times and never once mention the health of an individual other than depriving them of their life without due process.

Do you think they cared enough about capital criminals to protect the right that protects their life from unjust harm and just overlooked your right to individual healthcare?

We have many apparati for promoting the general welfare of the nation. The CDC, the NIH, FDA and lots of others.

Besides, I remain unconvinced the preamble is actually law. It's like Issac Newton writing in his preface that he will demonstrate a model for the reason apples fall from trees, but it's only later when we get to F=MA that we are provided anything of significance.

I doubt I can be convinced otherwise, but I'm sure I can be proven wrong.

Lane Signal 1 year, 2 months ago

Republicans can try to block the Affordable Care Act. They can criticize it and spread lies about the implications, but this law is a step in the right direction. A small step, perhaps a flawed step, but a step in the right direction. The biggest problems with the Affordable Care Act are in it's not going nearly far enough. The government could reduce the health care costs of all Americans and reduce Federal spending if they could meaningfully change the way drug prices where negotiated. Almost all other countries regulate and negotiate drug pricing at a national level, but the United States with it's broken legislative model allows the drug lobby to prevent this. The insurance lobby has made it impossible to make meaningful changes to the way people buy health insurance. Meanwhile, the drug companies, the insurance companies and our employers have the Affordable Care Act to point to as an excuse to raise rates and reduce coverage. We need more federal involvement, less lobby influence and to move away from the broken fee for service model that drives health care costs up so quickly.

Keith 1 year, 2 months ago

It's so unpopular that the website couldn't keep up with all those not interested in signing up!

BaneMaler 1 year, 2 months ago

It sure does. I have shelter over my head, a car to travel with, a job, and fridge full of food because of the wonders of free enterprise. Government never had to get involved for all these individuals to make transactions with me. Its been going on in this country for hundreds of years too! You should check it out!

chicago95 1 year, 2 months ago

Huelskamp says, "When you can't get online — it's a 'fail.'" So Tea Party soldiers are now behind a Denial of Service attack? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial_o... )

Just kidding, (I hope.)

arch007bak 1 year, 2 months ago

Apparently, the state-operated exchange site in NY had more than 10 million hits today. Their AG is now investigating the very thing you mention. I had mentioned that as a possibility regarding healthcare.gov to a friend before I had even read about it and maybe I was right.

jafs 1 year, 2 months ago

Maybe.

But there are about 8 million people in NYC alone, so it's very possible that 10 million people in NY state might be looking at the site.

jafs 1 year, 2 months ago

This is a very minor glitch, probably caused by too many people trying to access the site at the same time.

Since there's no huge hurry, and you have until December 15th to sign up to get coverage starting in January, people should just wait a little bit, and not crowd onto the site all together.

Also, there have been sites up for a while, like the Kaiser foundation, that offered good information about probable costs on the exchanges - I guess nobody did any research until today, and then suddenly had to know immediately.

Ah - people.

Liberty275 1 year, 2 months ago

Ah, filling out one form (actually, my wife filled it out, I didn't do anything) and being done with it. That's how you are supposed to get insurance. :-)

jafs 1 year, 2 months ago

Again, you're lucky.

What about people who don't have employer provided insurance?

Also, many kinds of insurance require more than that - home insurance requires an insurance inspection, and life insurance requires various health exams, etc.

BaneMaler 1 year, 2 months ago

Confused? You mean like all the people who still don't have "employer provided insurance"? The thing about this is that health insurance has been far more affordable (hardly cheap) for individuals and small businesses. Now we are seeing the jump in premiums. So that insurance that you weren't getting from your employer is going to be a lot more post exchanges. I'd recommend people shop off the exchange while they still can.

jafs 1 year, 2 months ago

A good point!

One can always ensure that government works poorly by sabotaging and underfunding it.

jafs 1 year, 2 months ago

Not me.

I like for things to work well.

But I understand that you, and other libertarian minded folks, see nothing positive about government and so you want it to fail. Having said that, I don't understand how you can maintain that view, except by denying all of the positive aspects of government.

tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

This is a complicated system which is easily overloaded. Every request is pretty unique, and the system has to go out and find the right plans from several different places. And there are too many people trying to get in. It's like what happens when there is a major accident on a busy highway. No one is going to get home soon when they shut down all but 1 lane. They probably should have put out the word that only people whose last names are A-J come on line on this day, K-N on the next, etc. But maybe they thought the Tea Party's campaign telling people not to sign up for insurance was successful. Of course, if we had gone to a single payer plan, this might have been easier to handle.

There aren't too many sites that could stand that much traffic. Isn't it making all of you naysayers nervous that so many people want to get on and buy insurance? Oops, what if this works. What if we have people paying for insurance, so when they get sick, they don't have to apply for charity or go bankrupt? The neo conservatives are worried that they will have to share doctor's waiting rooms with the riff raff. Horrors.

IreneAdler84 1 year, 2 months ago

That is exactly why they are nervous. They have been selling the meme that the 46 milliion people without health care did not want health care. Would totally suck for them if it turns out that they were wrong.

BaneMaler 1 year, 2 months ago

You realize that one of the key provisions of the ACA makes it mandatory to participate whether you want healthcare or not right? It might just be that people are avoiding the penalties that come along with not enrolling.

Also, just because the site is slow doesn't mean people are signing up, are interested in buying, or even that there are a significant amount of people on. For instance, if they don't have the server strength to cater to say 1M hits it could cause these problems. I've seen sights slow to a crawl with just a few thousand visitors. So your assumption is just that.

deec 1 year, 2 months ago

Didn't the governor turn down money to set up the Kansas program?If all the states had set up their exchanges and/or expanded Medicaid, the Federal system might not have been so overwhelmed.

Also, lots of websites have issues and glitches when they first go live.

Sparko 1 year, 2 months ago

Why yes, yes he did. He called the Koch Brothers first to make sure though.

tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

Huelskamp is trying to buy insurance? I thought all you conservatives yesterday were telling us that the Congress is exempt? Did you forget to tell him? And no one supports the bill? Why are so many trying to get on this site? There have been so many lies spread about Obamacare or rather the ACA (they are the same, people), that they can't even keep their lies straight.

George_Braziller 1 year, 2 months ago

We can thank Brownback for the problem. He refused to accept the federal dollars provided to the State to set up the exchange because he said he was going to wait until after the Presidential election. He thought the Affordable Care Act was going to be shot down and didn't have a "Plan B."

shotgun 1 year, 2 months ago

Call Lynn Jenkins and complain! 202-225-6601

Brendan Hansen 1 year, 2 months ago

I would do that, but I already called to let her know I was supporting her, and it would just feel weird to call back.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

This action reveals the true ignorance of the GOP and their misinformation campaign loaded with lies and distortions. How can one political party be more significantly stupid than the other? Well we have the ALEC Right Wing Party posing as the GOP being evermore stupid than the democrats.

No mean feat I must say. And it does not stop with Obamcare.

Consumers pay thousands of dollars a year in the event something might happen only to start over at the next cycle to keep paying in the event something might happen. And all of that money paid the previous year or previous years means nothing no matter whether a client used the insurance or not. Talk about a scam.

Wii the Brownback plan prove significantly more efficient? Get real.

grammaddy 1 year, 2 months ago

Please be patient with the people running the Marketplace. They are just as overwhelmed as the website itself. Thanks, Brownback.

FarleyM 1 year, 2 months ago

If Obama couldn't get his system set up in 3 years, why get mad at Brownback? Obama has executive order changed the law so many times, who can stay up with the whim of his decisions?

Seth Peterson 1 year, 2 months ago

Did you even read the article? The answer is in the article.

William Weissbeck 1 year, 2 months ago

The employer mandate and individual mandate are not related. The employer mandate was an attempt to hold down overall costs by recognizing that it should be cheaper for employers to obtain group coverage for their employees than for those same employees to obtain individual coverage. The individual mandate is necessary to the insurance exchanges, because without the mandate there won't be enough healthy members in the group to balance out the costs tor those who are older and/or with preexisting conditions. It's just a sad commentary on our economy and too many of your employers that they can't see their way to providing benefits to their part-time employees and that their business model is built around a large work force of just part time employees.

BaneMaler 1 year, 2 months ago

It's called a free market. From your post I presume you have never run anything. Why should it be the responsibility of the employer to provide you with health insurance? Why not life or car insurance while we are at it. Maybe the employer should also be required to buy our groceries or a cell phone. All things we need in modern society.

Go take a stroll downtown and ask each business owner what in the way of ANY healthcare benefits, let alone major medical they provide to their staff. All those restaurants you love 9.9 times out of 10 got nothing for them. This is called the real world.

skinny 1 year, 2 months ago

Ok People!! Our Government is BROKE! Where do you think the money is going to come from to pay for this so called (free) Affordable Health Care Act?????

Our taxes are high enough already!!!

tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

It's not free. The people have to pay premiums. Some working poor will get a subsidy, but most will pay regular premiums. If you have insurance, you don't have to do anything. If you are not working, then move to a state that expanded Medicaid, then you can "free" health care, but Brownback, although he claims to be a Christian, could care less about you.

jafs 1 year, 2 months ago

Well, the subsidies are quite generous, at up to 4x the poverty level - given wages these days, I would guess that a lot of people will qualify for them.

Centerville 1 year, 2 months ago

Oh, I'll be patient all right. But, on Jan 1, if I am not enrolled in the same Blue Cross plan I'm in right now, but be spending $2,500 less for it in 2014, there will be hell to pay.

jafs 1 year, 2 months ago

Really?

What will you do exactly?

And, what's your source that somebody promised you that precise thing would happen? I've seen you post that before, but never with a source.

Centerville 1 year, 2 months ago

Go to YouTube, look up "Obama Promises to Lower Health Insurance Premiums by $2,500' where you will see at least 25 instances of the promise. Oh, and I just got a prelim quote for $4,000 more than he promised me. Suffice it to say that I won't be buying from the Kansas exchange.

jafs 1 year, 2 months ago

I did just that.

The statements were that they would work to reduce premiums by "up to" $2500/yr. And/or that the "average family" could see reductions of that amount.

That's a very different thing than promising everybody's premiums would be reduced by that amount.

deec 1 year, 2 months ago

Thanks for verifying that he said "up to" and "average" and "typical family" and "as much as" just like jafs said.

OlDan 1 year, 2 months ago

Yes, and he also said we will lower, we will cut, we will save, we will... almost as often as he said what jafs said. Like I said, it depends on the video.

jafs 1 year, 2 months ago

:-)

Also, he said we'll "work to" and "with your insurance company", etc. Obviously if insurance companies don't work with him, it won't happen on it's own.

Many people don't realize that presidents aren't like kings, and they have much less power than people think.

gr 1 year, 2 months ago

"up to"?

Sounds more like an advertiser/marketing claim.

Get "up to" $15,000 for your trade-in! You "could" even make money off the deal! But sorry, you only qualify for 50 cents.

jafs 1 year, 2 months ago

That's exactly right.

He was campaigning, and that's what campaigning is these days, advertising and marketing.

Liberty275 1 year, 2 months ago

You would think that after the onslaught of advertising and campaigning we see, we would be more adept at spotting the hucksters. They don't all sell ShamWows.

ThePilgrim 1 year, 2 months ago

"We have a lot of visitors on the site right now. Please stay on this page. We're working to make the experience better, and we don’t want you to lose your place in line. We’ll send you to the login page as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience!"

We’ll send you to the login page as soon as we can??!! What webpage does that and gets away with it, with people still coming back, and rave reviews? Only the Federal gov't, Obamacare and an adoring media. Decided to try it out to see what my premium would be on the exchange. At 10:00 at night I waited 90 minutes for a login. When I did try to create an account the security question dropdown boxes were blank. Next night, same thing. Next night, after finally creating an account it said that the account did not exist. That's not glitches or heavy traffic, that is technical malpractice.

hillsandtrees 1 year, 2 months ago

Sounds like the software that Gov Brownback has to transfer 'Proof of Citizenship' from the DMV to the County Clerks office. Lets see, that's been going on for more than 9 months - at a cost of 20,000 citizens on the 'want to be voter list'. Sec of State Kobach says it doesn't matter that all these citizens are denied their most basic right. At least the ACA is working to fix the problem. Oh, never mind, the Tea Party closed the government so Federal workers aren't there to fix it.

tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

Exactly hillsandtrees, Not to mention some "private sector" company that ripped off Kansas taxpayers with their lousy software. But that's ok, because it was the "private sector". The tea party should be drummed out of the country. Let's find them a deserted island and let them kill each other off, because they don't like living in a society. They are selfish brats. My parent's generation built the infrastructure for them to drive their fancy cars. They funded their educations and paid for the research to find cures for diseases which were death sentences before. Now these wimpy, selfish crybabies don't want to pay any taxes, and want to shut down the government.

BaneMaler 1 year, 2 months ago

"Be patient" and "Hurry up and wait"; all terms we will sadly have to get used to moving forward. They are terms that are all too familiar with veterans navigating the labyrinth known as the VA.

tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

If this had been a private business that had garnered so many hits that it shut down their website, you would consider it a big success. Why different standards for this program?

FarleyM 1 year, 2 months ago

Subsidies or not, you STILL have to spend money for insurance you were not spending on because of affordability, before Obamacare.

It's too bad these people will have to pay a fine for not spending on insurance they were not able to afford buying before Obamacare. Will they be able to afford the fine? Will they be working to get it deducted from their income tax? Will they get it deducted from their food stamps, housing, WIC, et. al.?

What a racket this no business sense Obama has going here. The $100 monthly for insurance people couldn't afford before Obamacare, is now subsidized to $50, and they still can not afford it. Ooops. Now you have to pay a fine for not being able to pay the affordable care $50 spot. ha.

Now we see why insurance companies have been bailing out of States.

tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

And all along this was a GOP plan which is working in Massachusetts. You don't want insurance, don't get it, but don't bum off of us.

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