The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

June 4, 2014

Data discrepancies jeopardize national health coverage

WASHINGTON — More than 2 million people who got health insurance under President Barack Obama’s law have data discrepancies that could jeopardize coverage for some, a government document shows.

About 1 in 4 people who signed up have discrepancies, creating a huge paperwork jam for the feds and exposing some consumers to repayment demands, or possibly even loss of coverage, if they got too generous a subsidy.

The 7-page slide presentation from the Health and Human Services department was provided to The Associated Press as several congressional committees are actively investigating the discrepancies, most of which involve important details on income, citizenship and immigration status.

Ensuring that health care benefits are delivered accurately is a top priority for HHS nominee Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whose confirmation as department secretary is before the Senate this week.

Responding to the document, administration officials expressed confidence that most of the discrepancies can be resolved over the summer. Nonetheless, HHS 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Bataille, communications coordinator for the health care rollout, said most of the discrepancies appear to be due to outdated information in government files — and the “vast majority” of cases are being resolved in favor of consumers.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 discrepancies, which officials have termed “inconsistencies.”

“The fact that a consumer has an inconsistency on their application does not mean there is a problem on their enrollment,” said Bataille. “Most of the time what that means is that there is more up-to-date information that they need to provide to us.”

The document provided to AP said that 2.1 million people enrolled through the new health insurance exchanges were “affected by one or more inconsistency” as of the end of April.

The exchanges offer subsidized private coverage to lower-income and middle-class people with no access to health care on the job. The sliding-scale subsidies are based on income and family size, and are also affected by where a person lives. Because they are structured as tax credits, the Internal Revenue Service can deduct any overpayments from a taxpayer’s refund the following year.

Under the law, only citizens and legal immigrants are entitled to subsidized coverage.

Updated numbers provided by Bataille indicate that the total number of people affected remains about the same as a month ago. About 1.2 million have discrepancies related to income; 505,000 have issues with immigration data, and 461,000 have conflicts related to citizenship information.

The law contemplated there would be verification problems with the new program, and provided for a 90-day window to clear up discrepancies. During this time, a consumer’s coverage is not affected.

About 60 percent of all the people with discrepancies are still within that 90-day period, said Bataille. Consumers who get a request for additional information can upload documents electronically or mail them in. The HHS request is supposed to specifically describe any information that the government needs.

The HHS document provided to AP, dated May 8, describes a laborious effort to try to resolve the data problems, largely requiring hands-on work from a legion of workers employed by government contractor Serco, Inc.

“Current system access and functionality...limits the ability to resolve outstanding inconsistencies,” said the document. “A phased approach is proposed, initially leveraging manual processes.”

Atop the priority list are citizenship and immigration issues, then annual income.

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold hearings next week on the data issues affecting eligibility for health care benefits. The HHS inspector general is expected to deliver a report to Congress later this summer on how well the administration is doing at preventing inaccurate payments and fraud.

1
Text Only
News
  • Ritz-Craft Ritz-Craft to hire 60 for Mifflinburg plant

    MIFFLINBURG — Sixty jobs are coming to Mifflinburg as a Ritz-Craft production facility that went dark seven years ago amid the housing downturn will come back on line during the next few months, company officials announced Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Selinsgrove man dies when tractor flips in Chapman Township

    PORT TREVORTON — A 57-year-old Selinsgrove man died Tuesday evening when the farm tractor he was driving overturned and pinned him beneath it, according to Snyder County Coroner Bruce Hummel.

    July 29, 2014

  • VanKirk 'Real hero' of World War II dies

    ATLANTA, Ga. — Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Monday of natural causes in the retirement home where he lived in Georgia. He was 93.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mayor: Rental ban for drug dealers a success

    SUNBURY — A controversial landlord-tenant ordinance passed by the City Council in 2012 has become one of Sunbury’s “better success stories,” Mayor David Persing said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Mom cited for allegedly leaving baby in car for 12 minutes

    LEWISBURG — A summary citation carrying a maximum fine of $127.50 was filed Tuesday against a Lewisburg woman accused of leaving her 10-month-old baby unattended for 12 minutes in a car in Union County on July 21.

    July 29, 2014

  • Line Mountain district, teachers $1.2M apart in contract talks

    MANDATA — Separate proposals from the Line Mountain School District and its teachers union are $1.2 million apart and not getting any closer, according to Benjamin L. Pratt, the district’s labor counsel at the CGA Law Firm.

    July 29, 2014

  • Road work: Expect traffic delays on Route 54 near Danville

    RIVERSIDE — Motorists in the Danville-Riverside area are advised that a 2.2-mile micro-surfacing project on Route 54 from Riverside borough to Boyd Station in Northumberland County will begin this afternoon.

    July 29, 2014

  • Blood trail leads to stabbing suspect in Montour County

    DANVILLE — Borough police followed a trail of blood along a sidewalk, up a staircase and down a hallway that led to a moaning woman who they say knifed another woman Sunday night.

    July 29, 2014

  • Spencer_Maria1.jpg Maria Spencer charged with murdering her ex-husband

    SELINSGROVE — On Monday, a little more than two years after Frank Spencer was executed outside his Columbia County home, his former wife and her father were charged in his murder and the attempted homicide of Spencer’s girlfriend.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Opponents, supporters to discuss clean air rules

    DENVER — Hundreds of people are expected to attend public hearings this week in a handful of cities across the U.S. to tell federal regulators what they think of proposed rules to cut pollution from power plants.

    July 29, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.