By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 08/13/14 12:12 PM EDT
The Obama administration’s decision to threaten to cut off ObamaCare to 300,000 people unless they prove their citizenship or immigration status is long overdue, GOP Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.) said Wednesday.
In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Black said the administration should take steps to ensure that people who receive subsidies for their ObamaCare insurance are eligible to get them.
“While I am pleased the Department is taking steps toward reconciliation of these inconsistencies to ensure that taxpayer funded credits are provided to those who are truly in need, this step is long overdue,” Black wrote in her letter.
“Furthermore, many questions still remain for Congress and the American people on what plan there is to address this issue as the next open enrollment cycle approaches while other pending inconsistencies remain unresolved, particularly income inconsistencies,” she wrote.
The department said Tuesday that more than 300,000 people risked losing their health plan coverage because their citizenship and immigration status on their applications did not match federal records.
The department said consumers with the inconsistencies need to send in documents verifying their status by Sept. 5, or they could lose coverage effective Sept. 30.
Black, who has hounded the administration over whether tax credits are going to eligible recipients, warned taxpayers will be on the hook for $1 trillion over the next decade to pay for the subsidies. She said that made it critical to ensure those receiving them were eligible.
The congresswoman has introduced a bill that would prevent the government from giving out healthcare subsidies until its application verification system was fully operational.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has admitted problems with its verification process and a recent Government Accountability Office report highlighted the agency’s shortcomings during the HealthCare.gov rollout.
During a recent House hearing, CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt said the agency was improving its verification system but cautioned there will be “bumps” ahead.
In her letter to Burwell, Black wants to know what internal verification process the department will use to validate returned applications, how long it will take to review those applications, how it plans to store the documents and how it will use the data to improve its processing of future applications.
Black also questions what the department plans to do about income inconsistencies on applications and whether it plans to have those inconsistencies and others resolved before the next enrollment period begins.