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GOP bill looks to scale back IRS involvement in Obamacare

This May 17, 2013 file photo shows Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House passed a bill Thursday that would ban new subsidies to help people buy health insurance until the Obama administration enacts a new verification system to ensure they only go to those who are eligible. Black is also investigating whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement circumvented the law when the agency only changed the name on a position Congress defunded in March. (Credit: AP)

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) on Monday proposed legislation aimed at ensuring companies aren’t forced to routinely report confidential health insurance information on their employees to the IRS.

Black’s bill is a reaction to language in Obamacare that requires companies to send data to the IRS each month beginning next year, information that could include people’s Social Security number and dates of birth. Republicans have questioned whether the IRS can be trusted to safeguard this information, as well as whether the new reporting requirements will be another onerous regulatory burden for companies.

FILE - This May 17, 2013 file photo shows Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House passed a bill Thursday that would ban new subsidies to help people buy health insurance until the Obama administration enacts a new verification system to ensure they only go to those who are eligible. Black is also investigating whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement circumvented the law when the agency only changed the name on a position Congress defunded in March. Credit: AP Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) proposed legislation Monday that would eliminate monthly company reporting to the IRS about the health care status of workers. Credit: AP

“These burdensome reporting requirements take time, money, and resources away from the daily operations of running a business,” she said. “They also put sensitive personal information at risk as it is transmitted to the IRS, where it is then stored.”

Black’s bill, the Streamlining Verification for Americans Act, would eliminate this requirement and let companies voluntarily report their workers’ health insurance status once per year, without including any confidential data.

Black’s bill would also prohibit people from receiving insurance subsidies under Obamacare until the government verifies their eligibility. Some reports have indicated that subsidies are being paid out before it’s verified that the recipients’ incomes are low enough to qualify for subsidies.

Republicans have said the government’s failure to verify eligibility first means millions of dollars will likely be wasted.

“That is what was originally required by the law and it is unacceptable that this administration has doled out billions of taxpayer dollars without first checking to make sure those receiving subsidies are truly eligible,” Black said.

Black’s bill and others like it could test the extent to which President Barack Obama is willing to consider changes to the controversial health care law. Two years ago, Obama said people with ideas to fix the law should present them, but the Democratic Senate has shut down any real chance of debating ways to alter the law.

The GOP-led Senate that convenes next year is almost certain to raise the many Obamacare fixes that House Republicans have raised, and may also call a vote on a full repeal bill.

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