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Reps Garcia, Murphy to Sebelius: expand "commonsense solutions" for Obamacare

A letter from Democratic U.S. Reps Joe Garcia, Patrick Murphy and others:

Dear Secretary Sebelius,

As supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we write today to request that the Department of Health and Human Services prioritize fixing and expanding the direct enrollment process through health plan issuers and allowing enrollment through web-based entities (WBEs) as options for consumer who are shopping for health insurance.

The successful implementation of the ACA will provide millions of Americans across the country with the opportunity to purchase affordable quality healthcare coverage for the first time. While we commend the Administration for its recent efforts to address many of the technical issues facing, we continue to be concerned by ongoing technical challenges, specifically those associated with the transfer of enrollment information to insurance providers. These technical challenges create the real possibility that health plan issuers will not have records for people who believe that they have enrolled for coverage and, therefore, may not be able to effectuate coverage on January 1, 2014.

In light of this, we believe that additional commonsense solutions must be pursued to ensure that individuals have access to the information they need, can purchase coverage smoothly, and have their coverage available when they need it. Toward this end, we believe that HHS should fix and expand the Direct Enrollment process to create an alternative path for enrollment that is not dependent upon the receipt of information from or the accuracy of that data. Health plan issuers and WBEs could gather all of the information needed to initially provide coverage directly from the individual at the time that they select a plan.

We believe that prioritizing this alternative path is an effective interim solution for enrolling consumers while the Administration continues to resolve the issues that have limited the ability of health plan issuers to enroll individuals into the coverage that they have selected. Additionally, in keeping with the aim of the marketplaces to promote consumer choice and private competition, this alternative path has long-term advantages by providing Americans with multiple ways to find and sign up for the health care coverage that best meets their needs and the needs of their families.

We know that millions of American families will benefit from the successful implementation of the ACA. That is why it is important that we embrace reasonable fixes that make the law work for more hardworking Americans. Thank you for your consideration of this important issue, and we look forward to working with you.


[Signed by representatives Garcia, Murphy, Kurt Schrader, Marc A. Veasey, Filemon Vela, Tulsi Gabbard, Ann Kuster, Ron Barber, John Carney and Kyrsten Sinema]