Filed Under:Markets, Employee Benefits

Democrats: PPACA exchanges are working

Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y. (YouTube screen capture)
Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y. (YouTube screen capture)

Democrats fired back today at a hearing on the performance of the applicant eligibility screening system at the public exchanges run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

See also: GAO: Federal PPACA exchanges are open to fake people

Investigators at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that, when they tested the HHS exchange qualified health plan (QHP) eligibility screening system, they were able to get full coverage for one of 12 fake applicants and provisional coverage for 10.

The House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee held a hearing on the report. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the subcommittee, said the report shows the HHS Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchanges have problems with their internal controls.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said Republicans are trying to find fault with the eligibility verification system to distract people from the overall success of the exchange program. "Many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle said that no one would sign up for the Affordable Care Act," Lewis said. "Instead, 8 million people enrolled."

Later, Lewis said, Republicans claimed that the QHPs would be too expensive. "Last month," he said, "HHS reported the average cost was only $82 per month for those receiving tax credits."

He said PPACA has helped opened the doors to health care for millions of America. "The predictions of disaster have simply failed to come true," Lewis said.

Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., argued that the impact of any problems in QHP user eligibility screening will be minimal.

"What's the ultimate prize here for the criminal?" Crowley asked. "A free colonoscopy?"

Con artists who want to defraud the government can find easier, more lucrative ways to do so, Crowley said.

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