“We're still trying to be very patient with CMS,” said Thoai Nguyen, CEO of Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition in Philadelphia. “It is extremely frustrating. We seem to be powerless in trying to address the problem.”
The CMS will not release details on how many of the 310,000 individuals whose applications were flagged for problems have provided sufficient documentation to resolve the issue. “We are working to process information submitted by thousands of consumers responding to our outreach regarding their citizenship or immigration data matching issue,” Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the CMS, said in a statement. “Individuals respond to deadlines and we expect more responses that were mailed by Sept. 5. We are encouraged by (the) response so far and will provide additional information soon.”
On a call last Wednesday with organizations working on the issue, CMS officials indicated that they had not received any additional data from 239,000 individuals who could potentially lose their coverage, said Angel Padilla, health policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center. Padilla said the organization is urging people to continue sending in documents even if they missed the Friday deadline. At this point, the NILC has no immediate plans to take legal action to prevent people from losing coverage.
“What we're doing is just monitoring,” Padilla said. “We want to see how this goes.”
Immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally are prohibited from using the exchanges. But naturalized citizens and legal residents can seek coverage through the government-run marketplaces. The 310,000 applications flagged by the federal government are only from individuals from the 34 states that relied on HealthCare.gov for enrollments. It's uncertain how many people who signed up for coverage through the state-based exchanges face similar problems, although California has indicated that it has roughly 100,000 applications with insufficient documentation of immigration status.
Nguyen worries that the difficulties will discourage immigrants from signing up for coverage in the future because they won't think it's worth the hassle. “After that whole fiasco of enrollment to now get your plan canceled, or possibly canceled, is just a terribly discouraging prospect,” he said.
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