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.Julie Bataille was hired in 2011 to be the spokeswoman for CMS, the federal agency tasked with developing and operating the HealthCare.gov website. And, apparently, she shares a common attribute with her boss over at the White House: President Obama and Julie Bataille both have a penchant for being untruthful.
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...
Federal health officials also discussed the issue during a conference call Wednesday with navigators and certified counselors in several states.
"They've said do not use paper applications because they won't be able to process them anywhere near in time," said John Foley, attorney and certified counselor for Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, who was on the call.
That contradicts what federal health officials told reporters during a national media call this week, during which they said there were no problems with paper applications.
"There is still time to do paper applications," Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters on the call Wednesday.
A CMS spokesman declined to comment directly on the issue Friday when asked whether they discouraged navigators from using paper applications...
In early November, President Barack Obama himself encouraged paper applications as one of several alternatives to the federal website.
"I just want to remind everybody that they can still apply for coverage by phone, by mail, in person," Obama said on Nov. 4 in remarks to Affordable Care Act supporters at a Washington hotel.
The paper application problem comes as insurance agents and brokers are dealing with a massive backlog of applications that they can't process because of problems with the federal website, including incomplete enrollment files sent electronically to insurance companies...
Kelly Fristoe, an insurance agent in Wichita Falls, Texas, has submitted 25 paper applications since early October and hasn't received a response from federal health officials yet.
"At this time, we are not using any paper applications," he said.
That also contradicts what CMS told reporters this week.
Bataille, the spokeswoman for the federal agency, said all paper applications received during October have been processed.
Bataille previously served as Deputy Director of Communications for Vice President Al Gore and the Gore 2000 Presidential Campaign. According to the CMS website, Bataille "coordinated proactive outreach of key Gore messages." Perhaps her aversion to telling the inconvenient truth is something she picked up while serving under Gore.
Bataille also served as Assistant Press Secretary at the White House during the Clinton administration, and she worked in the office of Joe Biden when he was still a US Senator, which might also explain her mendacity. However, working with Obama these past two and a half years certainly helped Bataille consummate and perfect the art of fibbing.
According to the CMS website, Julie Bataille is also an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America. Hmmm, prevarication might be an essential part of Public Relations, but the inconvenient truth is Bataille still needs to improve on her PR work just a tad bit.....