A new report issued by the Inspector General of the Health and Human Services Department says that the agency is unable to resolve most of the inconsistencies found in income and citizenship information supplied by Obamacare enrollees receiving insurance subsidies.
According to the report, those running the federal marketplace are having trouble resolving problems “even if applicants submitted appropriate documentation.”
“The federal marketplace was generally incapable of resolving most inconsistencies,” the report said, claiming the government could not resolve 89 percent of the problems.
And of the roughly 330,000 cases that could be straightened out, the administration had only actually resolved about 10,000 during the period of the inspector general’s audit. That worked out to less than 1 percent of the total.
The IG report says that out of 2.9 million problems with enrollees’ information, HHS was unable to resolve 2.6 million of the discrepancies.
About 80% of the problems reported were with income and citizenship issues — two areas most vulnerable to fraud. Those 2.6 million inconsistencies do not mean there are 2.6 million individuals with discrepancies in their information. Many enrollees had multiple discrepancies, although as the IG pointed out, that “data on inconsistencies are limited and that “the Federal marketplace could not determine the number of applicants who had at least one inconsistency.”
The IG pointed to 5 major problems with verification of eligibility:
3. The healthcare.gov site is still not working perfectly. According to the audit, one health care marketplace was unable to verify the information on 15,000 applications because of outages on the federal website for verifying data. The federal data hubs also contained old and inaccurate information. In some cases, for example, infants were identified as “incarcerated.”
4. The healthcare.gov site is still incomplete. According to the audit, the federal government was unable to resolve inconsistent data from subsidy applicants because the system “was not fully operational.” In fact, the government was not able to determine how many applicants with whom the government had at least one problem verifying the information they provided.
On top of the problems being experienced by Washington, the state exchanges are having trouble verifying eligibility too:
5. Some state-run marketplaces have problems, too. Four states do not have the capacity to determine how many applicants for health care subsidies have provided potentially faulty information. Nevada and Oregon reported their systems “were not built with the capacity to provide that data.” In Colorado and Minnesota, health care marketplace officials relied on state Medicaid offices to do the verifying and said they had no access to the information.
As originally envisioned, the process to verify eligibility involved the enrollee entering income and citizenship data through the Obamacare website which would then verify the info with the IRS, Homeland Security, and any other agency involved in the process. The IRS would also calculate the correct amount of the subsidy.
But the healthcare.gov website is still unable to communicate with IRS and Homeland Security computers. Nor are insurance companies plugged into the system yet. So, the chances of errors in the amount of subsidies given to taxpayers (not to mention the prospect of giving subsidies to non citizens) has become so serious that it’s possible that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers will be forced to pay back thousands of dollars in wrongly-figured subsidies next year.
Press Secretary Josh Ernest told reporters that the millions of discrepancies weren’t that important:
“Resolving those inconsistencies is important, but isn’t necessarily complicated and doesn’t necessarily indicate any sort of problem with the application that someone has filed,” he said Tuesday.
The government can’t verify income or citizenship but this doesn’t indicate “any sort of problem” with the application? “Josh” is well named. As far as not being complicated, if that were true why has HHS only been able to resolve 300,000 of out 2.9 million discrepancies in 8 months?
The IG is recommending that CMS have procedures in place to resolve the problems and give a deadline of when they will be completed. They key would appear to be the Obamacare website and getting it fully operational. But HHS has virtually stopped giving updates on progress in building the site’s back end and no one is predicting when it will be complete.
That flushing sound you hear is the noise made by your tax dollars disappearing down the Obamacare black hole.