Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Federal Bureaucrats: Failing to Guard Your Obamacare Subsidy Tax Dollars

The Government Accountability Office's (GAO) report summary is brief and absolutely worth a full reading.  But here are some direct quotes from that summary:  
  • [The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] CMS foregoes information that could suggest potential program issues or potential vulnerabilities to fraud, as well as information that might be useful for enhancing program management. 
  • GAO found CMS did not have an effective process for resolving inconsistencies for individual applicants for the federal Health Insurance Marketplace (Marketplace). 
    • For example, according to GAO analysis of CMS data, about 431,000 applications from the 2014 enrollment period, with about $1.7 billion in associated subsidies for 2014, still had unresolved inconsistencies as of April 2015—several months after close of the coverage year
    • In addition, CMS did not resolve Social Security number inconsistencies for about 35,000 applications (with about $154 million in associated subsidies) 
    • or incarceration inconsistencies for about 22,000 applications (with about $68 million in associated subsidies). 
  • During undercover testing, the federal Marketplace approved subsidized coverage under the act for 11 of 12 fictitious GAO phone or online applicants for 2014. 
    • The GAO applicants obtained a total of about $30,000 in annual advance premium tax credits, plus eligibility for lower costs at time of service. 
    • The fictitious enrollees maintained subsidized coverage throughout 2014, even though GAO sent fictitious documents, or no documents, to resolve application inconsistencies. 
  • GAO found CMS relies upon a contractor charged with document processing to report possible instances of fraud, even though CMS does not require the contractor to have any fraud detection capabilities. 
  • CMS has not performed a comprehensive fraud risk assessment—a recommended best practice—of the PPACA enrollment and eligibility process.