GOP pans Obamacare subsidies' "honor system"

For the second Saturday in a row, Republicans devoted their weekly address to sounding off against Obamacare ahead of a critical implementation deadline on Oct. 1.

In this week's address, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., touted a bill passed by the House on Thursday that would prevent the government from issuing insurance subsidies to people under Obamacare until it has "a system in place to prevent fraud" by verifying consumers' income levels.

"In an attempt to prop up its struggling health care law, the Obama administration decided they'd hand out subsidies without verifying who's eligible. They just want to rely on the honor system," she said. "Not only is that unfair to hardworking taxpayers like you, it opens the door a mile wide to fraud and abuse. According to one independent estimate, some $250 billion in bad payments could be doled out over the next decade."

At the start of October, the law's health insurance exchanges will officially debut, allowing consumers to comparison-shop for health coverage in an online marketplace. Depending on their income level, Americans could also qualify for insurance subsidies under the new law, and it's these payments that Black warns are rife with the potential for abuse.

"Instead of exercising common sense and accountability, the administration is willing to just give away your tax dollars, no questions asked," she said. "This is nonsense, and members of both parties agree. Democrats on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee have also come out for requiring verification. Now we need the full Democratic-led Senate to act."

The Senate Appropriations Committee in July approved a measure urging the government to "verify annual household or individual income prior to making available premium tax credits" under Obamacare, but it was only a non-binding resolution, approved on a voice vote. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., have authored a bill making the verification compulsory, but it is unlikely to be considered by the full Senate.

In her address, Black, a registered nurse, said the concern over the law's implementation "affects me personally."

"I can tell you the things patients and their families count on - their doctors, their plans, the cost of their care - all of this comes under siege in the president's health care law," she said. "It won't just fail to keep its promises; it will make things much worse."

  • Jake Miller

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