The Health Care Fiascoes Continue
"I Don't Mind A Parasite. I Object To A Cut-Rate One."

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According to these excerpts from a Washington Post article titled: ”Federal health-care subsidies may be too high or too low for more than 1 million Americans“ by Amy Goldstein and Sandhya Somashekhar, published: May 16:

“The government may be paying incorrect subsidies to more than 1 million Americans for their health plans in the new federal insurance marketplace and has been unable so far to fix the errors, according to internal documents and three people familiar with the situation.

The problem means that potentially hundreds of thousands of people are receiving bigger subsidies than they deserve. They are part of a large group of Americans who listed incomes on their insurance applications that differ significantly — either too low or too high — from those on file with the Internal Revenue Service, documents show.

The government has identified these discrepancies but is stuck at the moment. Under federal rules, consumers are notified if there is a problem with their application and asked to upload or mail in pay stubs or other proof of their income. Only a fraction have done so, according to the documents. And, even when they have, the federal computer system at the heart of the insurance marketplace cannot match this proof with the application BECAUSE THAT CAPABILITY HAS YET TO BE BUILT, according to the three individuals.

So piles of unprocessed “proof” documents are sitting in a federal contractor’s Kentucky office, and the government continues to pay insurance subsidies that may be too generous or too meager. Administration officials do not yet know what proportion are overpayments or underpayments. Under current rules, people receiving unwarranted subsidies will be required to return the excess next year.

Because the computer capability does not yet exist, THE WORK WILL START BY HAND, according to two people familiar with the plans. It will focus at first not on income questions, but on another roughly 1 million cases in which people enrolled — or tried to enroll — in health plans and ran into questions about their citizenship status. Throughout the sign-up period that ended earlier this spring, flaws in HealthCare.gov blocked many naturalized citizens or permanent legal residents, requiring them to submit immigration documents that are, like the income information, caught in a backlog.

The work of sorting out inaccurate incomes — and inaccurate subsidies, as a result — will likely begin SOMETIME THIS SUMMER, two individuals familiar with the plans said.

Of the various technical problems that remain with HealthCare.gov, the difficulty in straightening out discrepancies affects an especially large number of consumers. Of the roughly 8 million Americans who signed up for coverage this year under the health-care law, about 5.5 million are in the federal insurance exchange. And according to the internal documents, MORE THAN HALF OF THEM – ABOUT THREE MILLION PEOPLE – HAVE AN APPLICATION CONTAINING AT LEAST ONE KIND OF INCONSISTENCY. These inconsistencies have arisen as the information listed on their applications has been cross-checked, via a newly built federal data hub, with the Social Security Administration and other federal agencies, as well as incarceration, IRS and immigration records.

According to various recent internal documents, income discrepancies are the most frequent kind of inconsistencies among insurance applicants, and they exist on 1.1 million to 1.5 million out of nearly 4 million inconsistencies overall. Of the total inconsistencies, the documents show, consumers have uploaded or mailed in about 650,000 pieces of “proof” — or for about one inconsistency in six.

The federal rules say that consumers have 90 days after applying to try to prove that their information is correct and, if an inconsistency is not resolved by then, whatever the federal records show is assumed to be correct. By now, about one-third of people with inconsistencies have passed their 90-day window. But because of the trouble verifying incomes, the government has not lowered or raised anyone’s subsidies.

From their vantage point, consumer advocates have also been concerned about the possibility of inaccurate income information. They worry that some consumers who have innocently overstated their incomes should be getting higher subsidies — and perhaps better insurance — than they are receiving, while those who accidentally understated their income may get a nasty surprise during tax season next year when the IRS demands that they return any subsidy money they have improperly collected.

“The longer it takes and the more months . . . go by, the more serious the consequences of any error that may have occurred,” said Judy Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which has been pressing its concern with administration officials.

“I have this sick feeling that there are these people out there who have made unintentional errors, and in a few years will be subject to massive tax bills,” said Jessica Waltman, senior vice president for government affairs at the National Association of Health Underwriters, a lobbying group for health insurance brokers.”

For the entire article, see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/federal-health-care-subsidies-may-be-too-high-or-too-low-for-more-than-1-million-americans/2014/05/16/8f544992-dd14-11e3-8009-71de85b9c527_story.html

The above article says “potentially hundreds of thousands of people” may be receiving incorrect subsidies. My hunch is that this number is far higher – simply based upon the track record of government when reporting bad news to the American people. I wouldn’t be surprised if incorrect subsidies were being paid to MILLIONS of Americans.

For those people whose subsidies are eventually determined to be too low, they’ll probably receive an adjustment similar to a tax refund – which may or may not make up for the shortages they experienced over time. However, those who have been overpaid – as described above – will undoubtedly be hopping mad as the government recoups the overage. These people will probably be permitted to establish some sort of a repayment schedule, but regardless it will be an extremely tough situation for them.

Once again, we see the ObamaCare train wreck in operation. IT DID NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN THIS WAY. We The People have a right to demand that the government DOES IT RIGHT – the first time. This is just another example of the gross incompetence that has been the hallmark of the Obama administration since it first assumed the reigns of government in 2009.

Aside from ObamaCare, Benghazi-Gate, IRS-Gate, AP-Gate, and the numerous other indications of gross incompetence, now comes VA-Gate. As The Financial Times reports:

“…the Obama administration could be facing a genuine scandal about its treatment of military veterans that has the potential to attract broad political condemnation of its competence.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is facing mounting evidence that some of the hospitals it runs have been keeping two sets of books to make it look as if they were reducing waiting times to see a doctor.

More damning, the department is investigating the claims of a whistleblower doctor in Arizona that dozens of patients at one hospital died while they were languishing on a hidden waiting list without ever being given an appointment.

Richard Griffin, the department’s acting inspector general, admitted on Thursday that its review could lead to criminal charges. In the first political casualty of the scandal, Robert Petzel, the department’s undersecretary for heath, resigned on Friday.

If the evidence of mismanagement continues to accumulate, the Obama administration will find itself not in another partisan knife-fight, but under fire from both parties in a Congress where the uniformed military is venerated.”

For the entire article, see: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/328546c0-dd10-11e3-8546-00144feabdc0.html#axzz31zdYFGUk

We The People should watch this situation very carefully, to see whether the Obama administration accepts responsibility for what occurred ON THEIR WATCH and takes timely and appropriate remedial action. The recent resignation of a high-ranking VA official WHO WAS GOING TO RETIRE SOON ANYWAY is not enough. The initial report was that Obama's attorney general wasn't going to participate in the initial investigation - leaving that to the VA Inspector General. Does anyone actually believe that allegations of this magnitude should be left to an INTERNAL investigation if we expect the truth to come out?


Latest Activity: May 17, 2014 at 1:19 PM


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