The Government Accountability Office has released a report saying that in a test of the government’s ability to verify the identify and citizenship status of people signing up for Obamacare, 11 of 12 fictitious applicants were approved, and continue to receive subsidized healthcare coverage.
“For 11 of these 12 applications, which were made by phone and online using fictitious identities, GAO obtained subsidized coverage,” GAO said in a release. “For one application, the marketplace denied coverage because GAO’s fictitious applicant did not provide a Social Security number as part of the test.”
GAO said it was required to submit documents such as proof of income or citizenship, but it said the document submission process was “inconsistent.” It also said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has confirmed that the entity that processes these documents doesn’t try to authenticate the documents it receives.
“As of July 2014, GAO continues to receive subsidized coverage for the 11 applications, including 3 applications where GAO did not provide any requested supporting documents,” GAO said.
As part of its study, GAO tried to test, in a face-to-face application process, whether officials would encourage applicants to misstate their income in order to qualify for subsidies. But GAO said it couldn’t obtain face-to-face meetings in five of six attempts — in one case, an official couldn’t provide any assistance because the Obamacare website was down.
GAO performed its study after Republicans in the House and Senate requested it last fall. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said the study provides more evidence that the health law is rife with problems.
“This law is already hitting Americans where it hurts the most – their pocketbooks,” he said. “Now, this administration is forcing the American taxpayer to foot the bill for Obamacare’s waste and fraud.”
“Ironically, the GAO has found Obamacare is working really well – for those who don’t exist,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), another member who requested the study.
“When the administration deemed the conversation about Obamacare over after reaching enrollment targets, they were dead wrong,” Hatch added. “These appalling findings not only question the validity of their numbers but show this poorly drafted law’s massive vulnerabilities to rampant waste and fraud.”
The GAO was expected to testify about the results of its study Wednesday morning at a Ways & Means subcommittee.
The study is the latest blow to the healthcare law, which has suffered several setbacks in the last few weeks. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that the federal government can’t hand out insurance subsidies to people in 36 states, a ruling that could significantly undermine the law by making it much more expensive for people to buy insurance.
However, a separate court made the opposite finding, which means the issue could be heard in the Supreme Court.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General said in early July that officials are unable to verify citizenship and income levels of millions of people who signed up for health insurance last year.