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Judicial Watch Sues HHS for Records on Obamacare Transactions

Errors in "834" Personal Data Reporting Forms Could Result in 30% of Obamacare Enrollees Getting the Wrong Plan, Family Members Not Getting Coverage, and/or Identities Being Unverifiable

WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwired) -- 04/21/14 -- Judicial Watch announced today that on March 27, 2014, it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to obtain records regarding the testing and oversight of the Obama administration's error-filled Healthcare.gov "834" reporting forms (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:14-cv-00511)).

The 834 form is an electronic file sent from HealthCare.gov to an insurance company after a consumer picks a health care coverage plan. The file is supposed to contain the person's name, address, contact information, Social Security number, and information about the plan they have chosen. Insurance companies use the form to enroll people in insurance plans and bill consumers for their portion of the payment. An inaccurate 834 form may result in consumers either not having coverage, or being turned down for payment claims.

It has been estimated that as many as 33 percent of the 834 forms for enrollees in the federal health care website may have been inaccurate, incomplete, or missing altogether.

In its March 27 lawsuit, Judicial Watch seeks the following records pursuant to a December 20, 2013, FOIA request:

  • Any and all documents and communications generated on or after April 1, 2013 regarding the timing and procedures for testing the back end systems that are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of Form 834 transactions on Healthcare.gov;

  • Any and all documents and communications generated on or after April 1, 2013 regarding reports of instances or potential instances of inaccuracies, discrepancies, and/or missing information in Form 834 transactions;

  • Any and all documents and communications generated on or after April 1, 2013 regarding the establishment and operation of an official mechanism to report and/or remedy instances of inaccuracies, discrepancies, and/or missing information in Form 834 transactions.

In a December 2, 2013, article titled "Healthcare enrollment on web plagued by bugs," the Washington Post reported: "The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors -- generated by the computer system -- that mean they might not get the coverage they're expecting next month." Also, the Form 834 problems "have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1."

Though the administration has refused to reveal how many consumers have been affected by the Form 834 failure, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesperson Julie Bataille admitted in early December that it is a major problem, being worked on by "a team of experts from CMS, key outside contractors working closely with health plan representatives and overseen by CMS's general contractor, Optum/QSSI." At a December 5 press briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney described the costly Form 834 failures as "self-inflicted problems," adding, "We know every person who has enrolled, or believes he or she has enrolled, we -- the CMS and others, and every one of them is being contacted ..."

"It speaks volumes that the Obama administration doesn't want to give us information about whether those who want insurance were actually able to get it through Healthcare.gov," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Given HHS's unlawful cover up, it is fair to conclude that President Obama's touted figure of eight million Obamacare enrollments is a knowing fiction. With all its illegal stonewalling of basic information, we frankly can't believe much of anything this administration has to say on what Obamacare is doing to the American people."

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