Says 2.2 Million Obamacare Enrollees Have Data Problems
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[June 05, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - About 2.2
million people, or more than one in every four Americans who signed up
for private health coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare
reform law, have inconsistent data in their applications that could lead
to them losing coverage in isolated cases, officials said on Wednesday.
Republicans, who have made the law known as Obamacare a top issue
for November's midterm congressional elections, pounced on the
disclosure as fresh evidence that it poses an unworkable burden for
But officials denied that the data issues rise to the level of
problem enrollments, saying consumers in many cases included data on
income, citizenship and immigration that is more up to date than
federal records show. They said most of the problems will be sorted
out by the end of the summer.
The data discrepancies, first reported by the Associated Press,
surfaced a day before the U.S. Senate is scheduled to take up a
final confirmation vote on Obama's nomination of Sylvia Mathews
Burwell as Secretary of Health and Human Services, the official
chiefly responsible for Obamacare implementation.
More than 8 million people enrolled in private health insurance from
October through mid-April via new online healthcare marketplaces
established under the law in all 50 states.
The marketplaces provide subsidized coverage for consumers with
qualifying income but the information must be checked to confirm
that it is accurate. Data errors that go unaddressed can lead to
demands for repayment and even coverage cancellations.
ďA 25 percent error rate is simply unacceptable when it comes to
proper use of scarce taxpayer dollars. Even worse, todayís
announcement once again illustrates how the Presidentís bloated
health care law has left American families and taxpayers in
financial limbo," said Senator Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on
the Senate Finance Committee.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a
report showing that 1.2 million people filed health insurance
enrollment applications with questionable income data, while 461,000
had issues with citizenship and 505,000 with immigration.
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CMS said 59 percent of the applications are within a 90-day window
for resolving data problems and said that "thus far, the vast
majority of cases are resolved affirmatively."
Consumers experience regular changes in income and various life
circumstances and the law accounts for these kinds of situations,"
CMS sad. "It is not surprising that there are income discrepancies
given that this is a brand new process."
But the agency also acknowledged that some applications could be
terminated if unresolved.
"Two million consumers are not at risk of losing coverage -they
simply need to work with us in good faith to provide additional
information that supports their application for coverage and we are
working through these cases expeditiously," CMS spokesman Aaron
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Eric Walsh)
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