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House approves bill requiring new income-verification system for Obamacare

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The House approved a bill Thursday that requires those seeking subsidies through the new health care law to prove their income.

Republicans pushed the bill to passage in a 235 to 191 vote over the objections of Democrats, who accused the majority party of throwing "sand in the gears" of President Obama's signature law on the cusp of its full implementation next month.

"This is not a credible bill, it's a political bill," said Rep. Henry Waxman, California Democrat.

The Democrat-controlled Senate is unlikely to take up the bill, and Mr. Obama has said he would veto it.

Only five House Democrats supported the bill, and no Republicans voted against it.

Rep. Diane Black, Tennessee Republican, sponsored the No Subsidies Without Verification Act in response to mid-summer reports the Obama administration would rely on the honor system when it doled out sliding-scale subsidies to consumers on state-based insurance markets, or "exchanges," that open in October to offer coverage that takes effect in January.

The bill calls on the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general to set up a verification program before it grants the subsidies.

"Too many of our precious tax dollars are being lost to fraud," Rep. Kevin Brady, Texas Republican. "That's the simple goal of this bill by Representative Diane Black — stopping fraud and abuse in Obamacare."

But the Obama administration 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.

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in July the agency will check attested income against electronic income data sources such as tax filings, Social Security data, and current wage information.

The administration has said it will follow up on discrepancies.

Rep. John Dingell, Michigan Democrat, said Thursday the House bill would hold up Mr. Obama's reforms and amounted to a "malicious assault on the most vulnerable people in our country."

"We've seen this song and dance before," he said.

The GOP-controlled House has voted roughly 40 time to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Stakes have risen in recent weeks, as the conservative wing of the party demands that Congress defunds the health care law as part of a short-term spending plan to keep the government afloat past Oct. 1.

Republican leadership on Wednesday put off a vote on the continuing resolution to fund the government until next week, a response to a potential mutiny among conservatives who want to hold the line against Obamacare.

They say a plan to hold symbolic votes on defunding the law — a measure the Senate can easily strip out of the spending plan — does not pass muster.

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