So it's come to this. During the past week, the Associated Press reported today, "Federal health officials," meaning "the Obama administration," began "urging" (i.e., "telling") counselors and navigators around the country to stop using paper applications for Obamacare coverage, "because of concerns those applications would not be processed in time." It seems that either Team Obama or AP (my money is on AP) doesn't mind risking criticism for waiting to let this news out until a weather- and sports-dominated Saturday. It's apparently okay to keep those who don't know any better, i.e., those who went to the trouble of printing a paper app on their own, in the dark.
So you shouldn't use paper. But the vastly under-reported but inarguable fact is that HealthCare.gov isn't secure; experienced IT security experts strongly warn against using it. So consumers shouldn't be going online either, meaning that there's no defensible way to apply for coverage before the end of the year. Of course, the Associated Press's Kelli Kennedy didn't tell readers that (no form of the word "security" is in her late Saturday morning story), just as she and Time Magazine's web site failed to do earlier this week (bolds are mine):
APNEWSBREAK: FEDS BALK AT PAPER HEALTH APPLICATION (Note: This must be AP's headline, as it is also used here. -- Ed.)
Federal health officials, after encouraging alternate sign-up methods amid the fumbled rollout of their online insurance website, began quietly urging counselors around the country this week to stop using paper applications to enroll people in health insurance because of concerns those applications would not be processed in time.
Interviews with enrollment counselors, insurance brokers and a government official who works with navigators in Illinois reveal the latest change in direction by the Obama administration, which had been encouraging paper applications and other means because of all the problems with the federal website. Consumers must sign up for insurance under the federal health overhaul by Dec. 23 in order for coverage to start in January.
"We received guidance from the feds recommending that folks apply online as opposed to paper," said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Insurance.
After a conference call earlier this week with federal health officials, Illinois health officials sent a memo Thursday to their roughly 1,600 navigators saying there is no way to complete marketplace enrollment through a paper application. The memo, which Claffey said was based on guidance from federal officials, said paper applications should be used only if other means aren't available.
Federal health officials also discussed the issue during a conference call Wednesday with navigators and certified counselors in several states.
Either AP just learned of these Wednesday conference calls late Friday or early Saturday, or the wire service sat on the story until Saturday. Kennedy's ability to get quotes from Claffey and others (in unexcerpted text), including Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would seem to indicate that it knew that this development was real well before Friday afternoon. Not that they'll ever care to provide it, but I'd say the burden is on AP to prove that I'm wrong.
As to AP's failure once again to apprise its readers, listeners, viewers and subscribing news organizations that HealthCare.gov is not secure — well, it's the height of irresponsibility, exceeded only by the Obama administration, which is obviously okay with millions of Americans risking the safety of their personal information in the interest of furthering its statist agenda.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.