In less than three months, Obamacare's federal health insurance exchange will open and with it the flood of subsidies begins. The administration is clearly worried about how this grand scheme is going to come together, and it should be. The Department of Health and Human Services on Monday officially eliminated the anti-fraud provisions so that anyone can certify himself as "needy" and get the freebies.
Even without an influx of billions of new spending by Obamacare, health care fraud is costly. The FBI estimates that Medicare is swindled out of anywhere between $75 billion and $250 billion a year, which is almost 10 percent of the program's spending. A rash of Obamacare con artists — real con artists, and not the pols and their helpers who shill for the program — have already attempted to take advantage of the complications of the law. The new charlatans are using the confusion and penalties built into the law to dupe the elderly into believing that if they do not pay health insurance immediately they will have to pay 2.5 percent of their income in fines and may go to jail.
By eliminating income verification for subsidies through the health insurance exchanges, the administration signaled a new kind of fraud. Applicants will now know that they can lie without risk to claim to earn less than the threshold income. The government could cut to the chase and put up a notice: "Sign up for free federal money here."
The most generous explanation is that there is no computer technology in place to fulfill its promises in time for the health care plan's October launch. Verifying income is not simple, and requires much information gathering and sifting through databases. Perhaps the National Security Agency could lend a hand.
A less charitable view is that the White House, having made such extravagant promises, is desperate to move, forward if possible, with Obamacare regardless of cost or consequence. Big-time fraud represents just one more expense in a program that's going to cost taxpayers trillions.
Allowing anyone to sign up, regardless of eligibility, inflates the Obamacare rolls to impressive levels. Even now little grunions are at work with brushes and inkpots in the White House basement on the banners: "Mission accomplished." The great fear of Obamacare proponents is that the customers just won't sign up. The White House has tried to get the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and even librarians to peddle the program. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been distributed to liberal groups to pay community organizers to recruit customers.
It's more than just a public relations problem. If the young and healthy refuse to sign up, the program will collapse because, by design, the burden of Obamacare falls on those who will least use its services. By kicking open the door and inviting anyone and everyone to walk through, the administration hopes to avoid the imminent crack-up. We may be swiftly approaching the straw that breaks the camel's back. The collapse of Obamacare won't be pretty, but it will make a lot of noise. Some of that noise will be skeptics reminding Congress and the White House that "we told you so."
The Washington Times
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.