- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A trio of top Senate Republicans have asked the Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general to look at whether the agency misrepresented its ability to verify Obamacare consumers’ incomes and issue the correct amount in subsidies to help them buy coverage on the new health exchanges.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said in a letter to Inspector General Daniel Levinson that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ prior assurances to Capitol Hill are not proving true.

“We have long been concerned that Obamacare, with its complex eligibility process and access to enormous taxpayer resources, presents a grave risk for improper, inaccurate, and even fraudulent payments,” they wrote. “Those concerns were further heightened last summer when [HHS] issued regulations that would permit individuals to self-attest to their eligibility for subsidies under certain circumstances.”

During Obamacare’s first round of enrollment from October to mid-April, people with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level were eligible for income-based subsidies to defray the costs of their health premiums.

The Washington Post reported this month that more than a million Americans may have been given subsidies that were too high or too low. In the former case, people may be socked with high tax bills when the government reconciles their subsidies with their actual income.

The senators said the report and information from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration “indicate that many of the systems needed to ensure verification are not built, not used, and therefore not working as promised.”

“Whatever one’s opinion of Obamacare, the American public deserves to know that their tax dollars are allocated appropriately and that public officials take their responsibility to accurately and faithfully apply the laws enacted by Congress seriously,” they wrote.

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