- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2014

The Obama administration said Monday that some 115,000 Obamacare customers who failed to resolve problems with their citizenship or immigration status by the Sept. 5 deadline will lose their coverage at the end of the month.

But officials added that those getting cancellation notices Sept. 30 may qualify for a special enrollment period to regain coverage.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it had closed out nearly 90 percent of discrepancies that arose after the first sign-up period for the Obamacare health insurance exchanges and that it is making similar progress in resolving more than 1 million instances in which customers’ income data did not match the government’s data on file.

On the immigration and citizenship side, the government has resolved 851,000 of 966,000 cases, leaving 115,000 individuals whom “we have not heard from and not been resolved.”

The numbers are down significantly from mid-August, when CMS said it needed documentation from 310,000 people by Sept. 5 who were at risk of losing their coverage.

“If people are willing to pay their premiums, and they are eligible for coverage, they will continue to get coverage,” CMS Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt said.

Among income-based cases, the administration closed out 897,000 of the inconsistencies submitted by 1.2 million households.

“We are pleased that the number of individuals who were at risk of losing their [Obamacare insurance] coverage or seeing changes in their costs because of data matching issues has been dramatically reduced in the last three months,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said.

The White House announced last spring that 8 million Americans had signed up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s new state-based health exchanges. But the rollout was marred by technical glitches on HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace that serves 36 states.

The law’s critics have questioned how many customers actually paid their premiums and stayed enrolled, and they point to data inconsistencies that continue to plague the system and may in part stem from the early tech glitches.

Asked whether the immigration and citizenship cases may harm the administration’s standing with Hispanic groups, Mr. Slavitt said those groups “continue to be critical to our success.”

Lawful U.S. nationals may obtain benefits, and information for all applicants is cross-checked with data at the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security, according to HealthCare.gov.

The system will alert the government if consumer information doesn’t match what’s on file, but the law gives consumers time to clear up any inconsistencies.

For example, customers who mistype their Social Security numbers will be asked to send in copies of their Social Security cards, officials said.

An applicant who needs to verify citizenship status must type in an “alien registration number” or “certificate of citizenship” number, which offers another opportunity for mistakes.

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