Verification of Exchange Eligibility Is Delayed

States that are running their own health exchanges now have until 2015 to verify that applicants to the exchange are eligible for health care benefits under the new law and do not already get affordable health insurance from their employer. Media Matters says that Fox News and The Wall Street Journal are stoking fears that a delay in the verification systems will lead to fraud. However, the government will conduct audits before implementing a stronger verification system and will levy heavy fines to people who misrepresent their eligibility.

On the July 8 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed the government won’t be able to verify whether you have the right income standards so they will simply have to trust people. Fox News host Bret Baier claimed that the government won’t check to see if anybody qualifies to get benefits. Co-host Gretchen Carlson said the program would be rife with fraud. A July 7 Wall Street Journal editorial claimed there could be as much as $250 billion in improper payments in the first decade of the program.

But an article in the Washington Post explains that the system includes safeguards against fraud. The full verification system is only delayed until 2015. Until then, the government will audit a statistically significant sample of consumers who appear to be underreporting their income. Anyone found lying will face a penalty of as much as $25,000 and be forced to pay back the extra subsidies. The Washington Post also noted that this honor system for health care reflects the one used by the Internal Revenue Service, “It is not unprecedented for the government to use the honor system in situations in which it collects data on millions of individuals,” said Timothy S. Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. For example, people are expected to report their cash tips to the Internal Revenue Service as income. “An awful lot of the economy is a cash economy. If we had to verify every statement that was made to the IRS, our economy would collapse,” he added. For more information, visit News

Last Updated 06/29/2022

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