24 Jul Undercover investigators score PPACA subsidies
Originally posted July 23, 2014 by Kathryn Mayer on www.benefitspro.com.
Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to get health insurance and tax subsidies through the federal exchange under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, underscoring ongoing problems and security issues plaguing the health care law, officials said Wednesday.
The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office said they created 12 identities with fake citizenship and immigration statuses and phony income documents to test how easy (or difficult) it would be to get coverage and subsidies under the law.
The agency said 11 of the fake applicants were accepted, and the HHS-run exchanges rejected just one applicant because it lacked a Social Security number.
Though HealthCare.gov flagged some attempts as problematic, the fake applicants found more success on phone calls to call centers handling applications.
“For its 11 approved applications, GAO was directed to submit supporting documents, such as proof of income or citizenship; but, GAO found the document submission and review process to be inconsistent among these applications,” the agency said. “As of July 2014, GAO had received notification that portions of the fake documentation sent for two enrollees had been verified.”
Republicans jumped on the latest news, saying it was yet one more flaw in the faulty law.
“Ironically, the GAO has found Obamacare is working really well — for those who don’t exist,” said Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
The Obama administration said it was taking the report seriously and would work to strengthen the law’s verification process.
The GAO remarked that findings were “preliminary” and they weren’t jumping to any conclusions yet. The agency said it would release a more detailed report in the coming months.
Eight million people signed up for health plans using the exchanges under PPACA.
The GAO report follows PPACA’s latest hurdle: two conflicting court rulings out Tuesday regarding the legality of PPACA subsidies issued to enrollees in the federal exchange.