By Michael Gomes
Created Aug 20 2014 - 4:06pm
Submitted by Michael Gomes  on August 20, 2014 - 4:06 PM
On August 12th, the Obama administration announced that more than 300,000 people who purchased subsidized health insurance could lose access to their health care coverage if they do not provide proof that they are legal U.S. citizens. Many of the unresolved issues are as a result of missing information regarding citizenship, immigration status, or income, the New York Times  reported. As it currently reads, the ACA only allows “lawfully present” immigrants to purchase insurance through the exchanges, including people with green cards, refugees, and people with visas.
Originally, over 970,000 cases of people with data discrepancies were identified. According to The Washington Post , 450,000 of those cases have been resolved, and another 210,000 are currently in progress. However, the remaining 310,000 people have not responded to calls, emails, and/or letters from the government asking to resolve the inconsistencies between the application forms and government records.
The federal government just announced that individuals who still have eligibility issues will have until September 5th to submit documentation proving their U.S. citizenship; and if they cannot establish their legal residency, those individuals will lose their insurance coverage beginning September 30th. This call to action by the Obama administration affects the 36 states that opted for federal Exchanges, and will mostly impact the Hispanic population, The Washington Post says.
As stated in the New York Times, Republicans have repeatedly accused the Obama administration of being “careless” about verifying the income and eligibility of the people applying for insurance through the Exchanges. And because the government exchange website continues to experience technical issues, some worry that people will lose coverage because of record-keeping problems on the government’s end, or because of something as simple as warning letters getting lost in the mail, The Washington Post  explains. Similarly, some organizations assert that many people being questioned have already proven their citizenship, but that proof was lost because of system errors. However, the government needs to reach out manually because, asThe Wall Street Journal  reported, federal agencies are still unable to use its databases to check people’s eligibility for health care coverage.
Lastly, a recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated that “the exchanges did not have adequate safeguards to prevent the use of inaccurate or fraudulent information when determining eligibility,” the New York Times wrote. A follow-up report, though, alleged that inconsistencies in the database did not necessarily mean that people had intentionally filled out incorrect information. Rather, some federal data may be old or inaccurate, as a result of technical difficulties. As a result, it is necessary for the government to follow up with the people who have discrepancies so they can clarify their information.