GOP lawmakers denounce fraud in ObamaCare

GOP lawmakers denounce fraud in ObamaCare
© Getty Images

Republican lawmakers are denouncing the Obama administration after a watchdog report found that the ObamaCare marketplaces remain "vulnerable to fraud." 

ADVERTISEMENT

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office submitted applications from fictitious people for ObamaCare coverage. Those applicants in many cases were approved for coverage, with financial assistance, by the administration. 

The new GAO report follows up on its previous investigations, which found similar results of fictitious applicants being approved for coverage. 

“When a fire is raging, the first thing you do is grab a hose — but there is no urgency by the administration,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a statement. “It’s déjà vu all over again as it seems the situation only continues to get worse, and we all are paying the price.”

In four applications, the GAO reused fictitious identities from 2014. Even though none of them had filed tax returns for 2014, a prerequisite for getting financial subsidies under the health law, all four were approved, the GAO said. 

In eight other cases, newly created fictitious identities were also able to obtain subsidized coverage. 

The ObamaCare marketplace directed 11 of these 12 applicants to submit extra documentation to prove their eligibility. In some cases, the GAO tested applicants without proper proof of their immigration or citizenship status.  

Five applicants submitted all documents and kept coverage. Three applicants submitted partial documentation and also were allowed to keep coverage. Three other applicants submitted no additional documentation at all. One applicant’s coverage was terminated but the other two kept it, the GAO said. 

“As if Obamacare’s recent headlines were not damning enough, we find out today that the Obama Administration continues to fail the test when it comes to enrollment verification,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown MORE (R-Utah) said in a statement. “Continuing to leave taxpayers vulnerable, years after the system was implemented, is a disgraceful way for the administration to leave our healthcare system.”

In response, HHS said that it has already implemented 43 GAO recommendations in the past year and is working on more. It said that while it appreciates the organization's work, it is "disappointed" that GAO has not provided more details on how its investigation worked or specific recommendations for stopping the fraudulent applicants. 

The department also noted that fraud is harder, and illegal, in the real world. 
 
"Within HealthCare.gov we have multiple checks to verify that applicants provide correct eligibility information on their applications, and GAO deliberately circumvented those checks by giving false information, which is against the law for actual applicants," HHS spokesman Matt Inzeo said in a statement.
 
Congressional Democrats have pushed back on previous GAO reports on the subject, noting that there is no actual fraud documented in them, only cases where the GAO tests its own fictitious applicants. Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Top Dems blast administration's proposed ObamaCare changes Drug pricing fight centers on insulin MORE (D-Ore.), for example, has said that it is much harder for someone to cheat the system in the real world when they actually have to show up at a doctors office and have their photo ID checked.