The powerful House Ways and Means Committee is demanding that the Obama administration cease paying Obamacare subsidies until they verify the payments are correct.
This comes after reports emerged that at least one million people may have received Obamacare subsidies incorrectly.
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp and his colleagues wrote to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Wednesday, detailing their past opposition to the subsidy system moving forward without verification and calling for an end to the payments.
“We write to demand that the Treasury Department halt all subsidy payments to insurers until the Treasury Department is able and willing to verify income information and ensure it is not making erroneous payments,” the letter reads. “This action will ensure Americans are not hit with a tax bill next April due to the government’s failure to verify income eligibility.”
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The Washington Post reported Saturday that between 1.1 million and 1.5 million Obamacare applications list incomes that are inconsistent with income data reported to the IRS. Just 650,000 customers have sent in proof to address the problem, but it’s not clear how many cases, if any, have been resolved.
The committee also argued that insurers — not taxpayers — be held accountable for incorrect subsidies next year. Currently, those who receive more premium subsidies than deserved will be required to pay back the federal government next tax season.
“Instead of taking action now, the Administration intends to continue spending taxpayer dollars and hopes that someday, somehow it will recapture these improper payments,” the committee wrote. “This is outrageous, but not surprising given the Administration’s past performance in implementing the President’s health care law. If the Administration intends to continue distributing taxpayer dollars to insurance companies, based on estimates provided by the insurers, the risk of error needs to be placed on insurers, not taxpayers.”
The congressmen asked for detailed reports on the number of customers who have provided documentation on their reported incomes and how many of these have been processed so far; the number of applicants who are likely receiving higher subsidies than deserved; when the income verification system required to run the Obamacare subsidy program will be finished; and the total sum of subsidies that have been overpaid in 2014.
The letter also pointed out outgoing Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ promise in just December 2013 that all those receiving subsidies would have their eligibility verified, and pointedly asked Lew whether the Treasury Department, charged with doling out the premium subsidies, had verified Sebelius’ claim.
A fiasco sparked by inaccurate Obamacare payments was predicted by many critics last year, when the Treasury Department announced over Fourth of July weekend that the exchanges would rely on customers’ own attestation that they’re eligible for premium help.
The Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to Sebelius earlier this week, requesting that the Obama administration provide all documents related to the incorrect subsidies. (RELATED: Lawmakers Hit WH Over Million-Plus Incorrect Obamacare Subsidies)
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