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22,000 waiting for HealthCare.gov errors to be fixed, report says

By Stephanie Condon / CBS News 7:34 AM February 3, 2014

President Obama over the weekend defended his choice to keep HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the job, even after HealthCare.gov’s disastrous launch in October.

Roughly 22,000 Americans are waiting for the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to fix errors in their health insurance coverage caused by HealthCare.gov glitches, but the computer program to process those 22,000 requests has yet to be built, the Washington Post reports.

The appeals were filed by people who say that HealthCare.gov — the website that serves as the Obamacare portal for 36 states — failed to correctly calculate the subsidies they’re eligible for, sent them into the wrong insurance program or completely denied them coverage, the Post reported after obtaining internal government data.

Those 22,000 appeals were submitted through the mail, since the computer and phone systems for filing appeals have yet to launch. The appeals were transferred to a computer system at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), but the program to process those appeals does not yet exist, unnamed sources told the Post.

CMS spokesman Aaron Albright told CBS News, “As we work to fully implement the appeals system, CMS is working directly with consumers to address concerns they have raised through this process.”

The pending appeals are largely related to HealthCare.gov glitches that are now fixed, he said, so CMS is recommending that people who had problems enrolling reset and resubmit applications on the site.

“We are also working to ensure that consumers who wish to continue with their appeal are able to do so,” Albright said.

He declined to say when the computer program to process those appeals is expected to be finished, or which contractor is working on the program. The administration recently tapped the consulting firm Accenture to replace CGI as the lead contractor responsible for HealthCare.gov’s ongoing construction.

Now that most of the front-end problems with HealthCare.gov have been resolved, the Obama administration has stepped up its efforts to encourage more people to enroll in insurance via the site. As of late January, about 3 million had enrolled in insurance plans through HealthCare.gov or one of the 14 state-based Obamacare sites.

President Obama over the weekend defended his choice to keep HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the job, even after HealthCare.gov’s disastrous launch in October.

“We hold everybody up and down the line accountable but when we’re midstream, Bill, we want to make sure that our main focus is how do we make this thing work so people are able to sign up,” the president said in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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