Healthcare

Sorry, citizen, we’ll need you to return those ObamaCare subsidies

Sorry, citizen, we'll need you to return those ObamaCare subsidies

ObamaCare critics – the most vindicated political movement of our lifetimes – warned this was going to happen over a year ago.  Now the day has arrived, and it’s going to be a mite uncomfortable for those who suddenly discover they weren’t eligible for some portion of their ObamaCare subsidies after all.  From the New York Times:

The Obama administration is contacting hundreds of thousands of people with subsidized health insurance to resolve questions about their eligibility, as consumer advocates express concern that many will be required to repay some or all of the subsidies.

Of the eight million people who signed up for private health plans through insurance exchanges under the new health care law, two million reported personal information that differed from data in government records, according to federal officials and Serco, the company hired to resolve such inconsistencies.

The government is asking consumers for additional documents to verify their income, citizenship, immigration status and Social Security numbers, as well as any health coverage that they may have from employers. People who do not provide the information risk losing their subsidized coverage and may have to repay subsidies next April.

Oh, good luck with that.  It will be especially entertaining to watch the IRS chase down illegal immigrants Big Government claims it cannot possibly locate under any circumstances, and instruct them to cough up their ill-gotten ObamaCare subsidies, or else… what?

For everyone else, it’ll be mass confusion.  I doubt this is going to stop at “hundreds of thousands” of questionable subsidy claims, since some 80 percent of purchasers received those subsidies, totaling a cool $4.7 billion according to the Times.  (That’s just for the sub-par ObamaCare launch, mind you; the total is supposed to swell to $900 billion over the next decade.)  There are already people who say the government is wrong to question their bona fides, and claim they’ve already submitted the documentation Health and Human Service is asking for again:

The government has a long list of documents that consumers can use to establish their eligibility. These include copies of birth certificates, Social Security cards, high school diplomas, driver’s licenses, pay stubs and voter registration cards.

Hey, wait a minute!  I thought it was straight-up racism to ask for that kind of identification from people.  Or is that only when they vote?

“The law requires us to double- and triple-check this data,” said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, so “we’re reaching out to consumers — via mail, email and phone calls — to encourage them to provide supporting documentation.”

Mara Youdelman, a lawyer at the National Health Law Program, an advocacy group for low-income people, said: “In some cases, consumers say they already sent the documents to the federal marketplace. They don’t understand why they are being asked to send them in again.”

Even though consumers have sent documents to Serco’s office in London, Ky., the government cannot always link the documents to applications for coverage filed months earlier. In addition, some consumers report persistent problems when they try to upload documents through HealthCare.gov.

And what the Times is reporting now is just the basic verification struggle, tracking down a few million people whose data didn’t line up after a database integrity check.  The real fun will begin when everyone’s estimated income level is compared to reality on their next tax return, assuming the IRS doesn’t have one of those astoundingly frequent hard-drive crashes they’ve become prone to, and lose all the data.  That’s when we’ll learn that thousands of people collected larger subsidies than what they were entitled to… and they’re expected to return the difference.

So we had a mad dash to sweep as many people as possible into ObamaCare before April 1, so the total enrollment number would give President Obama a nice photo op instead of sad-trombone headlines about coming up short… and now everyone is going to pay the price, including some folks that will have an awfully hard time coming up with the immense subsidy payments they were given for their hideously overpriced health insurance.  Although the Times mentions that “federal law generally limits the amount that lower- and moderate-income people may be required to repay,” which means what it’ll actually become is another giveaway of taxpayer loot to people who claimed it by mistake… and, in some cases, actively defrauded the system.  That’s just awesome, isn’t it?

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