Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

December 7, 2013

Feds give states incomplete Medicaid data

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — People shopping for insurance on the federal marketplace may be informed they’re eligible for Medicaid and that their information is being sent to state officials to sign them up. However, states say they aren’t able to enroll them because they’re receiving incomplete data from the Obama administration.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services wrote a memo to the 36 states using the federal website last week acknowledging the information wasn’t being transferred automatically and saying another system was being developed to send it. More complete files could be sent as soon as next week.

The technical problem could affect tens of thousands of Medicaid applicants and represents the latest issue to arise in the rollout of a website that’s been plagued with long waits for users and other glitches.

Some users who fill out applications on the federal site may believe that they’re already being enrolled in Medicaid or that state officials will contact them, even though the agencies aren’t receiving the information they need, said Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. The data transfer problem is occurring in the 36 states where the federal site is deployed, regardless of whether they chose to expand Medicaid.

“Essentially, if you’re a consumer on healthcare.gov, it will tell you you’re eligible for Medicaid and the state agency will take care of it, but there’s no real way for the state Medicaid agency to know anything about it,” said Salo, who leads the nonpartisan membership group for state Medicaid chiefs.

The federal marketplace was designed to help people buy private insurance under President Barack Obama’s health overhaul. If shoppers qualified for Medicaid, the site was supposed to send their data to the Medicaid agency in their state.

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