- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The IRS’s watchdog said Tuesday that the agency is generally reporting accurate data to Obamacare’s new insurance exchanges, suggesting at least one part of the new health care law is working as intended.

And a new poll found Obamacare is making inroads in extending coverage to residents of states that fully embraced the reforms, offering yet more good news for President Obama’s signature achievement, which has been battered by court challenges and continued GOP skepticism.

In the case of the IRS, internal auditors reviewed more than 100,000 information requests between Oct. 1 and Oct. 4, the first four days the new health exchanges were open for enrollment, and found the IRS’s responses were 99.7 percent accurate.

“In nearly all instances, the IRS correctly provided accurate information to the Health Exchanges on income and family sizes,” J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, said in the new report. “Accurate information is essential for an Exchange to determine if an applicant is eligible to obtain insurance coverage through the Exchange.”

In 33 cases the IRS incorrectly said it had no tax information for individuals because a programming error prevented the agency from using the most recent name information on a person’s tax account.

The report is a relative bright spot for the Obama administration, which suffered tech problems during the rollout of its signature health program but insisted that its federal data hub, which verified personal eligibility data, was working well.

Republican opponents argue that many consumers may have received inaccurate subsidy amounts because of inconsistencies between their applications and data on file, although the administration has insisted it actively resolves mismatches and is smoothing out its systems.

Even as Republicans take their attacks to the campaign trail, a new survey from Gallup suggests the law may be working to cut the rate of uninsured in several key battleground states.

The pollsters said Arkansas and Kentucky saw 10-point and 8.5-point drops, respectively, in their percentages of uninsured residents, followed by Delaware, Washington state, Colorado, West Virginia, Oregon, California, New Mexico and Connecticut.

Each of these states expanded Medicaid to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and set up an Obamacare health exchange on their own or through a state-federal partnership.

“While a majority of Americans continue to disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate is declining, as the law intended,” Gallup said, noting the nation’s uninsured rate peaked at 18 percent in the third quarter of 2013 before sliding to 13.4 percent by the second quarter of this year.

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