Obamacare going off the rails


The renewed focus this past week on Obamacare — there is so much going so wrong in the federal government right now that even the health care monstrosity occasionally slips off the radar — centered on how the government can provide subsidies to qualified applicants. Because the text of the law doesn’t seem to allow those benefits to be provided by insurance exchanges operated by the federal government rather than by the states, the question is now before the federal courts.

The program’s problems, however, run much deeper than the logistical questions about how benefits are dispersed. As a new report from the Government Accountability Office shows, there are also troubling new questions arising about who is receiving those benefits.

The short answer: We have no idea.

Attempting to test Obamacare’s security measures, GAO officials recently attempted to sign up for subsidized coverage using fraudulent information. The result: In 11 of 18 instances, the fake applications were accepted. Had these been actual scams, this handful of cases alone would have cost taxpayers up to $30,000.

The remaining defenders of Obamacare — whose rationalizations grow more desperate by the day — delivered an unimpressive rebuttal. They noted, for instance, the GAO’s small sample size (it should be noted that this is only the beginning of a more sweeping investigation); there’s nothing to suggest, however, that these problems won’t scale.

Moreover, they claimed that the likelihood of fraud is low because the subsidy payments are made to insurers rather than directly to consumers. This argument boggles the mind. People won’t be tempted to commit fraud just because the benefit doesn’t come in the form of a direct cash payment?

The Orange County Register has long opposed Obamacare as a matter of principle, but we’ve only grown more skeptical as we’ve witnessed the government’s inability to make the program function on its own terms.

Last year, the Obama administration quietly announced that it had no way to verify whether enrollees on state-operated exchanges qualify for the government aid they’re receiving, meaning they’re essentially operating on the honors system.

This new GAO report also noted that there are about 2.6 million “inconsistencies” in current applications and that only about 650,000 of them have been resolved.

The upshot: Taxpayer money is being dispersed with virtually no serious accountability mechanisms.

For too long, Obamacare’s defenders have insisted that the program be judged by its intentions rather than its results. With every disruption — the disastrous rollout of the healthcare.gov website, the president’s serial rewriting of the law, the soaring premiums — we’ve been offered increasingly implausible explanations as to why everything will eventually turn out fine.

This latest revelation only weakens that already fragile argument — and strengthens the case for repealing the law and replacing it with a superior alternative.

— From the Orange County Register

 

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