LINCOLN — Nebraska officials said Friday that a computer problem tied to the advent of Obamacare enrollment could delay some people's ability to get Medicaid coverage.
But federal officials said it should not prevent anyone from getting coverage. People can avoid the problem by applying directly to the state.
Iowa officials, meanwhile, are waiting for word on whether the federal government will sign off on the state's proposal to cover low-income people through a combination of Medicaid and private health insurance.
Both glitches are among the problems showing up as the Tuesday start of enrollment for the Affordable Care Act nears.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad met with federal officials in Washington this week to urge quick approval of the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan.
He said federal officials have concerns about Iowa's proposal to charge participants monthly amounts for coverage unless they complete health improvement activities.
The proposal, which is slated to begin Jan. 1, would use Medicaid dollars to pay the rest of the cost of coverage. It is expected to cover an estimated 150,000 Iowans.
The Iowa plan requires federal approval because it is different from the Medicaid expansion allowed under the federal law.
The computer problem in Nebraska prevents the transfer of applications between the federal health insurance marketplaces and state Medicaid systems. It affects people who apply for health insurance through the new online marketplace and are determined to be potentially eligible for Medicaid.
Russ Reno, a spokesman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said federal officials notified Nebraska about the problem last week. It is expected to be fixed by the first week of November, the officials said.
Reno said state officials have no idea how many people might be affected.
He noted that Medicaid has a 90-day retroactive rule, meaning that the program will help with medical expenses incurred up to three months before a person is determined to be eligible.
Julie Brookhart, a spokeswoman for the regional Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the computer problem does not prevent people from applying through the marketplace or keep them from learning that they would probably qualify for Medicaid.
The final determination of eligibility will be made by the state.
In a press release, Gov. Dave Heineman called the delay further evidence that the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, is not ready for implementation.
“Obamacare is a deeply flawed law and its legacy is going to be missed deadlines, increased insurance premiums and higher health care costs,” the governor said.
Two other glitches with the roll-out of the law came to light this week.
Small-business owners will not be able sign up online for employee plans until Nov. 1, although they can still shop for plans during October. The Spanish-language version of the healthcare.gov website also will not be ready to handle online enrollments for a few weeks.
Heineman has said the new law will increase state Medicaid spending by bringing more people into the program. They are people who qualify for Medicaid but have not enrolled.
Unlike Iowa, Nebraska is not expanding its Medicaid program. Heineman adamantly opposed an expansion, and a legislative proposal to expand Medicaid stalled.
Without the expansion, some Nebraskans will be unable to get health coverage even after the federal law goes into effect.
People can start shopping and enrolling in private health insurance coverage through the new federal marketplace on Tuesday.
World-Herald staff writer Paul Hammel contributed to this report, which includes material from the Associated Press.