Self-Evident

‘TELEPHONIC SIGNATURE’? As of Jan. 1, Obamacare Forces States to Accept Applications ‘Signed’ by Voice

(Published 1/13/14)

The Obama administration’s interest in creating a streamlined application process for Medicaid, CHIP, and subsidized health insurance via the state Obamacare exchanges has come at the expense of effective security and fraud prevention.

As of January 1, 2014, this easing of requirements now includes the mandate that states accept applications completed entirely via telephone. Rather than require such applications be later accompanied by the electronic or mailed transmission of a signed document, HHS instead requires states to accept a spoken assent on a telephone call as the equivalent of an actual signature.

Says J. Christian Adams, PJ Media legal editor and former DOJ attorney:

Perjury prosecutions are impaired by telephone signups. Signing on a dotted line has been the core means of assent for hundreds of years, and even computerized signatures have a means of verifying that the person signing is real.

This is the administration inviting fraud.

The Affordable Care Act, as passed, does not mandate the acceptance of “telephonic signature.” The relevant passage — Section 1413(b)(1)(a) — only requires that applications “may be filed online, in-person, by mail, or by telephone.” Relevant regulations issued by HHS did not initially mandate telephonic signature, either. See 42 CFR 435.907, which only required “a written application from the applicant, an authorized representative, or, if the applicant is incompetent or incapacitated, someone acting responsibly for the applicant.”

However, on March 23, 2012, Section 435.907 was revised. This revised section went into effect on January 1, 2014. It included the new part (f):

(f) The agency must require that all initial applications are signed under penalty of perjury. Electronic, including telephonically recordedsignatures and handwritten signatures transmitted via any other electronic transmission must be accepted.

The comment-and-response process which resulted in the new part (f) is available here. Note that the comments include scant discussion regarding any expressed need or desire for the mandated acceptance of telephonic signatures. Part (f) simply appears later in the document, and is now in effect …

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