Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fake applicants sign up for Obamacare in undercover GAO Probe

The House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday issued a press release summarizing the preliminary results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) undercover probe of enrollment controls in the ObamaCare health care exchanges.

Seto Bagdoyan, acting director of audit services for the GAO's Forensic Audits and Investigative Service will further discuss the agency's findings at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Wednesday.

House Ways and Means Committee Press Release:
As part of a “secret shopper” investigation, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) created 18 fictitious identities to apply for premium subsidies through the federal Exchange by telephone, online and in-person. With only one exception, GAO was able to get premium tax credits and health insurance with fake information through telephone and online applications. The results of their investigation are as follows:

11 out of 12 Fake Applications Approved: Out of 12 applications with fake information for the Federal exchanges, 11 were approved. The total amount of these credits was $2,500 per month or $30,000 per year and is currently being paid out for insurance policies for these fictitious individuals.

Applications with Fake Documents of Citizenship and Income Approved: Investigators provided fake documents, such as Social Security Numbers and proof of income and citizenship, which proved to be no barrier to getting taxpayer-funded credits. Additionally, investigators found that federal contractors made no effort to authenticate documents applicants provided.

In-Person Assisters Nowhere to be Found: GAO made six in-person attempts to sign up for federal subsidies. GAO was unable to obtain assistance in five of those attempts for a range of reasons including one navigator stating assistance was not available because HealthCare.gov was down and another declining to provide assistance. These assisters have received tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to provide services to applicants.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp noted on Tuesday that, “We are seeing a trend with ObamaCare information systems: under every rock, there is incompetence, waste, and the potential for fraud.

"Last month, we found that the Administration was unable to verify income or eligibility for insurance subsidies. Now, we learn that in many cases, the Exchange is unable to screen out fake identities or documents. This law is already hitting Americans where it hurts the most – their pocketbooks. Now, this Administration is forcing the American taxpayer to foot the bill for ObamaCare’s waste and fraud.”

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) said Tuesday that the “GAO’s early results of its audit of Healthcare.gov are astounding."

"Fictitious people have used fictitious documents to gain tens of thousands of dollars in real subsidies," Coburn said. "Yet, before subsidies were paid in January, the former secretary ‘certified’ the proper controls were in place to prevent these kinds of improper payments."

"Given GAO’s evidence and the OIG’s findings earlier this month," Coburn said, "we have seen consistent problems in how HHS has implemented Healthcare.gov. Far from fictitious, this kind of incompetence and gross mismanagement is unacceptable and deeply troubling...”

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