House Republicans delayed until Thursday a vote on a bill that demands a new program to verify the income of Americans who seek government subsidies to help them pay their health premiums under the new health care law.
The chamber's GOP majority pushed the bill Wednesday as a necessary step to prevent fraud among those without employer-based health coverage who seek tax credits to help them pay for plans they acquire on state-based insurance markets.
Even if it passes, the bill is unlikely to come up for a vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama has said he would veto it.
Debate is scheduled to continue Wednesday even though votes will not come until Thursday, as the House also decided to put off consideration of a short-term spending plan until next week.
The Obama administration criticized the income-verification bill as another attempt to delay the controversial law and the markets, or "exchanges," that are scheduled to debut Oct. 1 and provide coverage that is effective in January.
The Department of Health and Human Services says it has an "effective and efficient" income-verification plan in place and that imposing new duties on the inspector general could impede the rollout of the exchanges.
Facing down critics, the administration said it has completed testing of a centralized data hub that is essential to syncing up income, immigration status and health care information for consumers who seek coverage on the exchanges or other benefits tied to Obamacare.
HHS had been under pressure to set up the computer infrastructure needed to process and secure the information before October.
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