GAO finds Healthcare.gov re-enrolled phony applicants

Eleven fake applicants created by the Government Accountability Office last year were automatically re-enrolled by Healthcare.gov for 2015, representing weak oversight by the federal exchange, a new GAO report says. 

While six were flagged and sent termination notices later on, five applications renewed their coverage and even gained a boost in federal subsidies despite GAO not applying for it.

In testimony before a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday, GAO Audits and Investigations Chief Seto Bagdoyan said Healthcare.gov's document-processing contractor "is not required to seek to detect fraud," and that "the contractor personnel involved in the document-verification process are not trained as fraud experts and do not perform antifraud duties." 

For his part, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said that GAO's investigation reveals that President Barack Obama's administration "has been preoccupied with signing up as many applicants as possible, ignoring potential fraud and integrity issues along the way."

GAO's findings also confirm confusing and inaccurate communication on behalf of Healthcare.gov, since fake enrollees often received unclear correspondence that failed to identify issues with their applications.

Additionally, fake enrollees were prompted by Healthcare.gov to submit additional information to prove their citizenship, but the list of paperwork instead detailed documents to verify income.

This is not the first time Healthcare.gov has been under fire from GAO. In May, reports found that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services failed to follow best practices for IT management with the exchange's launch, which lead to problems with inadequate capacity, coding errors and limited functionality.

For more:
- access the GAO report
- here's Bagdoyan's statement
- here's Hatch's statement

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