Agents Get Subsidized 'Obamacare' Using Fake IDs - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Agents Get Subsidized 'Obamacare' Using Fake IDs

Posted: Updated:
Washington, D.C. -

(FOX 11 / AP) Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law, congressional investigators said Wednesday.

The weak link seemed to be call centers that handled applications for frazzled consumers unable to get through online.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office told a House committee that its investigators were able to get subsidized health care under fake names in 11 out of 18 attempts - even after HealthCare.gov's much maligned online system flagged some applications as problematic.

The GAO is still paying premiums for the policies, even as the Obama administration attempts to verify phony documentation.

Those follow-up verification checks also appeared to need tightening; the GAO said parts of the fake documentation it submitted for two applications actually got through the process.

Nonetheless, GAO audits and investigations chief Seto Bagdoyan told the House Ways and Means Committee that the agency has not drawn any sweeping conclusions from what he called its "preliminary" findings. A full assessment will take several months.

In the real world, it may be difficult for fraud artists to profit from the nation's newest social program, since government health care subsidies are paid directly to insurance companies.

Still, GAO's report opened another line of attack for Republican lawmakers who have relentlessly tried to kill the 2010 Affordable Care Act. It raised questions about new sorts of flaws in the enrollment system, which experienced computer gridlock when it went live last fall. Ultimately, 8 million people managed to sign up for subsidized health care in federal and state exchanges that handled "Obamacare" enrollment.

GAO also testified that there's still a huge backlog of applications with data discrepancies, even though the administration has resolved some 600,000 cases.

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., said the findings point to more bungling by the Obama administration. "This is simply not a question of whether one likes the administration's health care law; it's a question of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars," he said.

Speaking for committee Democrats, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia said it's time for Republicans to stop trying to dismantle the health care law and instead start fixing problems. "We will not go back to a time when Americans did not have access to affordable health insurance," said Lewis.

The Obama administration is taking the report seriously.

"We are examining this report carefully and will work with GAO to identify additional strategies to strengthen our verification processes," said spokesman Aaron Albright. At least on paper, fraudsters risk prosecution and heavy fines.

The GAO said its investigators concocted fake identities using invalid Social Security numbers and falsely claiming citizenship or legal residence. In other cases, they made up income figures that would disqualify them from getting subsidies.

Among the findings:

-Contractors processing applications for the government told the GAO their role was not to ferret out potential fraud. "There is no provision to look for fraud, in the contract itself," said Bagdoyan.

-Five of six bogus phone applications went through successfully. The one exception involved an applicant who refused to provide a Social Security number.

-Six online applications were snagged by an identity checking system. But investigators just dialed a call center and all six were approved. That seemed to be an open pathway to coverage.

-The GAO also tried to check the reliability of counselors providing in-person assistance. In five out of six cases, investigators were unable to get help. In the final case, the counselor correctly told the undercover investigator that the agent's stated income would not qualify for subsidized coverage.

  • Political NewsMore>>

  • Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's corruption case goes to jury

    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's corruption case goes to jury

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:02:25 GMT
    The corruption case that could send former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife to federal prison was in the hands Tuesday of jurors who must decide whether the couple sold the influence of the office to a wealthy vitamin executive seeking legitimacy for his company's signature product.
    The corruption case that could send former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife to federal prison was in the hands Tuesday of jurors who must decide whether the couple sold the influence of the office to a wealthy vitamin executive seeking legitimacy for his company's signature product.
  • Ex-Va. Gov says he knows in heart he's innocent

    Ex-Va. Gov says he knows in heart he's innocent

    Friday, August 22 2014 6:33 PM EDT2014-08-22 22:33:08 GMT
    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he knows in his heart he's innocent of the federal corruption charges he's facing.
    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he knows in his heart he's innocent of the federal corruption charges he's facing.
  • Rolex passed among jurors in ex-Va. gov trial

    Rolex passed among jurors in ex-Va. gov trial

    Thursday, July 31 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-07-31 23:08:18 GMT
    The requests for lavish gifts were frequent. Jonnie Williams — the star witness in a corruption trial against the former Virginia governor and his wife — was being asked for everything from a joy ride in his Ferrari to stock in the company he led.
    The requests for lavish gifts were frequent. Jonnie Williams — the star witness in a corruption trial against the former Virginia governor and his wife — was being asked for everything from a joy ride in his Ferrari to stock in the company he led.
  • PoliticsMore>>

  • Hagel, Dempsey Defend US Plan To Target Islamic Extremists

    Hagel, Dempsey Defend US Plan To Target Islamic Extremists

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 10:34 AM EDT2014-09-16 14:34:56 GMT
    The nation's top military leader told Congress on Tuesday that if President Barack Obama's expanded military campaign to destroy Islamic extremists fails, he would recommend that the United States consider deploying American ground forces to Iraq.
    The nation's top military leader told Congress on Tuesday that if President Barack Obama's expanded military campaign to destroy Islamic extremists fails, he would recommend that the United States consider deploying American ground forces to Iraq.
  • Mideast Complexities Confound US Coalition Effort

    Mideast Complexities Confound US Coalition Effort

    Monday, September 15 2014 10:23 AM EDT2014-09-15 14:23:05 GMT
    The Middle East has confounded outsiders for years, so it is no surprise that another U.S.-led project with a straightforward goal - destroying a marauding organization of extremists - is bumping up against age-old rivalries and a nod-and-a-wink-style political culture.
    The Middle East has confounded outsiders for years, so it is no surprise that another U.S.-led project with a straightforward goal - destroying a marauding organization of extremists - is bumping up against age-old rivalries and a nod-and-a-wink-style political culture.
  • Can President Obama Wage War Without Consent Of Congress?

    Can President Obama Wage War Without Consent Of Congress?

    Friday, September 12 2014 10:38 AM EDT2014-09-12 14:38:11 GMT
    As a U.S. senator from Illinois running for the White House in 2007, Barack Obama sponsored a resolution to prohibit President George W. Bush's administration from taking military action against Iran unless it was explicitly authorized by Congress.
    As a U.S. senator from Illinois running for the White House in 2007, Barack Obama sponsored a resolution to prohibit President George W. Bush's administration from taking military action against Iran unless it was explicitly authorized by Congress.
Powered by WorldNow
Untitled

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices