CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care says it’s past time for problems with the health insurance enrollment process, through the federal exchanges, to be fixed.

“It’s taken far, far too long to resolve these glitches and it needs to happen sooner rather than later,” said Perry Bryant on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”  A supporter of the Affordable Care Act, he is critical of how the enrollment process has gone since its launch on Oct. 1.

“It is a failure on the healthcare.gov website and it needs to be resolved to allow people to go on, see what their choices are and let let them think about those choices and come back and make a decision at some point,” he said.

As of now, federal officials are not releasing details about how many people have successfully enrolled for subsidized health care coverage through the federal exchanges, including the exchange in West Virginia that offers plans from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Over the past more than three weeks, the process has been described as “clunky” and “inoperable.”

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify next week on Capitol Hill about the many problems with the enrollment launch.

Sebelius told CNN this week President Barack Obama did not know of the problems with the ACA website, including the fact that the site crashed on a test run, until after its launch at the start of October.

In contrast, Bryant said enrollment in the Medicaid expansion in West Virginia has gone much smoother with an estimated 50,000 state residents enrolling automatically, so far, after being notified by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

“We’re a national leader in this,” he said.  “We’re doing exceptionally well.”

Bryant, though, is critical of another state agency, the state Offices of the Insurance Commissioner.  He said 270 people were supposed to be hired with federal money to help residents, across West Virginia, personally work through their health care coverage options.  At this point, he said only 80 are in the field.

The enrollment period continues through March 31.

As far as the enrollment website, Sebelius said a team of high tech experts, lead by Jeff Zients, a former CEO and acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, has now been tasked with fixing the problems with healthcare.gov.

West Virginia is one of more than 30 states utilizing the federally run exchanges.  In 16 states, state-run exchanges are reporting more success in enrolling people who do not currently have health insurance.

Bryant said a “window of opportunity” is closing with every day that passes without an efficient enrollment system.  “They need to get the website fixed and be able to let people see what their options are and make a choice, an informed decision, and the sooner the better,” he said.

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Comments

  • wvtd

    Obama can keep his care, I will take the fine or prison. stand up against these thugs before it is to late.

    • C.Hoffman

      You would be lucky to go to prison at least you'll get 3 slops and a flop. It is more likely the irs will freeze your accounts and take your property then put you out on the street for non compliance. I agree with your stance nonetheless even though the too late bell has tolled. There will be pain. Plan for it now and never lose hope.

  • Mike

    270,000 West Virginians have no health insurance. Those who do have it, need to stop paying for the non-insured every time they need some type of care and don't pay for it. 80% of the uninsured in WV will receive financial support in paying for their insurance. Sign 'em up now!

    • RogerD

      Mike, I have a question for you. You say the those with insurance need to stop having to pay for the non-insured every time they visit the ER or whatever. Fine. Then you say 80% of the uninsured will receive financial support to pay for their insurance. Who is going to pay for this financial support? Isn't the same people that are paying for it now?

      The big difference with Obamacare is that now we're also paying for a huge bureaucracy to manage the whole thing and it costs us even more.

      • Mike

        Roger, look at the big picture, if you can. Looking at it long-term, the Congressional Budget Office estimates ACA to cost roughly $940 billion over 10 years and will reduce the federal deficit by $143 billion over the first 10 years and by a trillion dollars over twenty years. This helps offset the up-front costs paid through taxes, penalties, spending cuts and reformations to the health care industry. The biggest taxes only hit you if you're making more than $200,000 a year… which leaves a lot of us out. Republicans have never had a better solution…except more money in the pockets of drug companies.

        • Joe

          Honestly, it would have been better to use that money to reestablish a NASA Apollo-like program for a manned mission to Mars. Think of all the jobs and earned wages and insurance that would come with them, reduction in entitlements, and the development of the next generation of technologies.

        • RogerD

          You may want to check those numbers. I'm pretty sure they have been revised and not in a direction that supports your argument. It's easy to argue a point with false premises.

  • Little rus

    Three words. Use the phone. Signed up .no problem.

  • wvman75

    Didn't they just say that we have a $265 million budget shortfall due to Medicaid? What's the solution? Expand the program. What a bunch of knotheads.

  • ole Sasquatch

    The people need to know how many have signed up, we are suppose to be the boss. The President will let us know when he is ready, because in his world he thinks he is the boss.
    That's what these old war time veterans are talking about when they say the people need to take this country back. Meanwhile the high nosed self-described intelligent people on MSNBC want to sit back and try to associate these veterans who have risked their life for them with the Ku Klux Klan.

    • wvtd

      that is the attitude of all liberal democrats, smug, arrogant and likes to look down on the working men and women from their soapbox while crying about how to help all the down on their luck folks who live their lives at the welfare trough looking for another handout rather than a job.

  • Joe

    We're a national leader in signing people up for Medicaid....

    We're supposed to be proud of that?!

    • RogerD

      Of course we're proud of that. Obama is proud he has been able to add millions to the food stamp program. It's called fundamental transformation.