The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

June 5, 2014

Application 'inconsistencies' under health law

WASHINGTON (AP) — Many of the 8 million people who signed up for coverage under President Barack Obama's health care now have an asterisk next to their names.

A government document provided to The Associated Press indicates that at least 2 million people enrolled for taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance have data discrepancies in their applications. Each individual has at least one mismatch between key personal information they supplied and what the government has on record.

Consumers who get a notice about such problems would do well to pay attention. If unresolved, it could affect what they pay for coverage, or even their legal right to benefits.

It's also creating a huge new paperwork headache for the administration, although officials say they hope much of the pile can be cleared away this summer.

Congressional Republicans opposed to the law are launching investigations, saying they worry the government may be wasting money by paying overly generous subsidies.

The seven-page slide presentation from the Health and Human Services Department was provided to the AP as several congressional committees are looking into the discrepancies. Most of the data conflicts involve important details on income, citizenship and immigration status — which affect eligibility and subsidies.

Ensuring that health care benefits are delivered accurately is a priority for HHS nominee Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whose confirmation as department secretary is expected to be voted on Thursday by the Senate.

Responding to the document, administration officials expressed confidence that most of the discrepancies can be resolved in the next few months. Nonetheless, the department has set up a system to "turn off" benefits for anyone who is found to be ineligible.

Julie Bataille, communications coordinator for the health care rollout, said many of the problems appear to be due to outdated information in government files — and the "vast majority" of cases are being resolved in favor of consumers. The government is making an all-out effort to reach those with various discrepancies, which officials have termed "inconsistencies."

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