HHS Swamped by Obamacare Paperwork

Image: HHS Swamped by Obamacare Paperwork (Saul Loeb/Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 06 Aug 2014 08:38 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Affordable Care Act, is wading through 550,000 applications to verify eligibility, Fox News reported. The agency already completed processing 650,000 files by mid-July.

With the Obamacare website up and running and 85 percent of applicants eligible for subsidies, HHS workers must balance the need to expedite their paperwork so that benefits are not delayed while identifying and rejecting fraudulent claimants. Obamacare subsidies will cost the treasury $10 billion in the first year, Fox reported.

For the most part, HHS needs to confirm an applicant's citizenship, work status, and income. In some instances, it needs to further investigate Social Security numbers, immigration status, incarceration, household size, and Medicaid eligibility among other criteria. Of 8 million enrollees, HHS needed to further investigate 1.2 million applicants.

HHS has been criticized for allowing false claimants to get through the system. Government Accountability Office investigators posing as enrollees recently had little trouble buying health plans and obtaining tax-payer subsidies by using invalid Social Security numbers and erroneous proof of citizenship, Fox News said.

The department has also been taken to task for being sluggish in verifying applicants' eligibility, sometimes asking enrollees to supply additional information even after it was repeatedly submitted.

"We are working with consumers every day to make sure individuals and families get the tax credits and coverage they deserve and that no one received a benefit they shouldn't," HHS spokesman Ben Wakana told FoxNews.

Applicants have 90 days to appeal stipend rejections by providing requested documentation.

Wakana added, "Consumers need to work with us in good faith to provide additional information that supports their application for coverage and we are working through these cases expeditiously," Fox reported.

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