“This is not simply a question of whether one likes the president's healthcare law or the way his administration has gone about implementing it,” said Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's Oversight Subcommittee. “The question is whether the administration is being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and is putting in place adequate controls to protect those dollars from fraud, waste and abuse.”
Democrats countered that even if individuals are submitting incorrect information they won't be benefiting financially. Federal subsidies are sent directly to insurers providing coverage, they argued, ignoring perhaps that consumers who may have lied about their income to obtain them would be paying lower premiums and thus saving money that way. They also pointed out that individuals submitting false information could face significant civil penalties, and even criminal prosecution, if they are caught.
“It's just another attempt, I think, to try and smear the Affordable Care Act,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.). “All the doomsday predictions haven't come true.”
The volley and countervolley came July 23 at an Oversight Subcommittee hearing. Seto Bagdoyan, acting director of the GAO's forensic audits and investigative service, cautioned at the hearing that the GAO's investigation is not complete and that the preliminary results shouldn't be used to draw conclusions about the 8 million applications filed through the state and federal exchanges.
Roughly 85% of individuals who enrolled in coverage through HealthCare.gov were eligible for subsidies. The 11 fictitious individuals who investigators were able to obtain coverage for with erroneous information or fraudulent documents qualified for about $30,000 in subsidies annually.
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