Right Hooks

Illegals Get a Healthy Dose of ObamaCare Subsidies

Jordan Candler · Feb. 9, 2016

We’re not sure what’s worse — that the government is legally permitted to grant ObamaCare subsidies to unverified individuals and iron out the details later, or that nearly three quarters of a billion in taxpayer dollars may be unrecoverable. That’s the alarming question raised by this report from Fox News: “Illegal immigrants and individuals with unclear legal status wrongly benefited from up to $750 million in ObamaCare subsidies and the government is struggling to recoup the money, according to a new Senate report.” The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee estimates there are as many as 500,000 fraudulent beneficiaries. But here’s the kicker: The initial handouts themselves aren’t unlawful, and there is no clear operation for getting that money back, both of which make the system ripe for abuse.

According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman Aaron Albright, “Lack of verification does not mean an individual is ineligible for financial assistance, but only that a Marketplace did not receive sufficient information to verify eligibility in the time period outlined in the law.” However, Fox notes, “Under the law, the feds can dole out these payments on a temporary basis if a recipient’s legal status is unclear, but are supposed to cut off funding and coverage if the recipient does not later come up with the paperwork. Up to a half-million ‘ineligible’ people, according to the report, applied in this way — with their credits paid in advance to the insurers. The IRS, though, is supposed to get overpayments back from the individuals themselves.” But how it plans to do that is the big unknown. “The Senate report says the IRS and HHS initially failed to coordinate on a plan for recouping funds, and claimed that a subsequent plan from the IRS to recoup the money is still ‘ineffective and insufficient.’”

The feds are essentially handing out money now and asking questions later — or what Sen. Ron Johnson calls “pay and chase.” And taxpayers may or may not ever see that money again. Meanwhile, The Orange County Register reports that “California issued some 605,000 new driver’s licenses last year to immigrants residing in the country illegally.” As Mediaite’s Lindsey Ellefson notes, that totals 40% of all licenses issued throughout the state in 2015. Is it any wonder immigration is among voters' biggest concerns this presidential election?

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