The Washington Times - December 4, 2013, 08:42AM

Rep. Jim McDermott on Wednesday downplayed a report from a Treasury Department watchdog that warned the government subsides that are supposed to help Americans purchase health care under the Affordable Care Act are vulnerable to fraud.

Speaking on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” Mr. McDermott, Washington Democrat, said that he has not had time to read the audit, but said that it is no surprise that government programs are subject to fraud.

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“Medicare is subject to fraud. Taxpaying is subject to fraud. The IRS is subject to fraud, and what you do is as you discover things, you developed mechanisms to catch it,” Mr. McDermott said, adding that the law is complicated enough that there are places where people can “monkey around” with what they are not entitled to. “If you take a hundred people, there are a few people in that hundred who will somehow try and get something that they are not entitled to. Most people in this country are honest.”

Mr. McDermott’s comments come as President Obama launches a public relations blitz aimed at restoring confidence in the law, including the federal HealthCare.gov website that crashed in its Oct. 1 debut, revealing serious problems with the system’s software.

Mr. McDermott said that Republicans have been bent on torpedoing the health care law since it passed Congress and was signed by the president and that GOP lawmakers should work with Democrats to fix its shortcomings.

He said most of the criticism that has been leveled as the law has been “baloney” and that has fed into the difficult time the public has had understanding the benefits of Obamacare.

“It is not surprising to me that lots of people have not actually come to understand it,” he said, adding that people’s impressions of the law often hinges on whether it is called the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. “It is the same thing, and I think what the propaganda effort has been has been to change it so people don’t see the benefits connected to what the president has done.”