By Columnist Jim Kouri
A top GOP congressman on Monday released the meeting notes regarding the Obamacare web site – HealthCare.gov – taken on Oct. 11, 2013 that stated: “The paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward in the process and provides another option; at the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue.”
The House of Representatives’ Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., released the notes transcribed during the so-called “War Room” meetings with Obama administration officials discussing the Internet rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s application process.
According to Rep. Issa, the notes reveal that participants repeatedly mentioned problems with the paper applications that people were encouraged to use in lieu of using the application on the functionally-challenged HealthCare.gov web site.
“The application forms were produced in response to an Oversight Committee request sent to 11 of the top contractors involved in the HealthCare.gov roll out by the dysfunctional Obama administration, especially his Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius,” said political strategist Michael Baker.
“Rather than showing concern for the millions of Americans who trusted and defended Obama’s health-care insurance overhaul, the Obama minions were more concerned with protecting the reputation of their boss. It’s all about Obama and not about what’s best for American citizens,” Baker said.
Just days after the web site launch, the notes show that Obama’s staff raised the question of paper applications, saying, “Given the computer system issues, should we be saying that paper is better for now? Should assisters who are sitting with consumers use paper? Proposal: Raise the paper application issue at the group director meeting.”
In the notes’ overview, it is stated: “Navigator issue: they should not be told to use paper applications until there is approval from leadership[.]”
In addition, according to Rep. Issa, the notes taken during the Oct. 11, 2013, meeting state, “The same portal is used to determine eligibility no matter how the application is submitted (paper, online)…. The paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward in the process and provides another option; at the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue.”
Four days later, at the October 15 meeting, the notes reveal that, “Navigators are seeing people very frustrated and walking away, so they are turning to paper applications to protect their reputations as people in the communities who can help, even though paper applications will not have a quicker result necessarily.”
However, by October 21 the notes state, “(W)e are to instruct Navigators to use paper applications rather than go through the call center.”
On that same date in the White House Rose Garden, President Barack Obama addressed the failed rollout of HealthCare.gov by telling Americans they could use paper applications.
“(W)e updated the web site’s home page to offer more information about the other avenues [available] to enroll in affordable health care until the online option works for everybody,” Obama said. “So you’ll find information about how to talk to a specialist who can help you apply over the phone or to receive a downloadable application you can fill out yourself and mail in.”
The October 21 notes disclosed that Serco, one of the contractors, “had over 3,000 applications submitted by the end of last week in paper form.”