Critics of Obamacare were handed another case of ammunition with the revelation that undercover federal investigators used fake identities to obtain taxpayer-subsidized health coverage.
Operatives slipped through the system in 11 of 18 tries, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says.
Republicans jumped all over the findings, contending this is more evidence that Obamacare is a mismanaged boondoggle that’s wide open to fraud and abuse.
Six of the GAO’s fake online applications were blocked by eligibility checks built into computer systems at HealthCare.gov. But the GAO says its undercover agents evaded that and enrolled anyway.
GAO investigators created fake identities using invalid Social Security numbers and falsely claiming citizenship or legal residence. Some operatives invented income levels that should’ve disqualified them from obtaining subsidies.
Some contractors handling the applications told the GAO that they weren’t hired to root out fraud, the GAO found.
In the bigger picture of things, Republicans and Democrats are trading blows over whether nearly 3 million inconsistencies found in consumers coverage applications suggest rampant fraud.
Republicans are predictably squealing with apocalyptic rhetoric. Yet nobody knows how deeply the revelations about Obamacare subsidies and application inconsistencies suggest deeply rooted and possibly fatal fraud. These are initial findings, not wrote truths.
Yes, football season is approaching, but let’s not make fraud such a political football. Obamacare is a new program. Any program of this size and complexity will leak some water at first. America itself was an experiment after the Civil War. The nation was untidy and full of deep structural problems as it rebuilt during the Reconstruction period. Critics could’ve easily howled that the America was a doomed train wreck of a nation.
Let’s allow the followup findings to paint a more-accurate picture of fraud in Obamacare. If there’s a lot, then work to fix the system at its leakage points. Obamacare and consumers are better-served by intent problem solvers. Give it a chance to succeed or fail on its merits, not on premature and single-minded badmouthing for political gain.
About the author: Jim Quiggle is director of communications for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.