House lawmakers on September 12 approved a measure to withhold distribution of subsidies created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148) until a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General verifies the eligibility of applicants. The measure, introduced by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., was approved by a vote of 235 to 191. The No Subsidies Without Verification Bill (HR 2775) would withhold tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies under the PPACA until the inspector general certifies that an HHS program to verify household income is operational. GOP lawmakers said the measure is intended to prevent the federal government from losing billions of dollars to health care fraud by relying on a self-attestation system.
“We must protect taxpayer dollars to ensure that only those who are entitled to subsidies receive them, and this legislation corrects a serious error on the administration’s part,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich. He urged the Senate to take up the legislation, but swift action appears unlikely, especially since the President Obama has promised to veto the measure.
House Democrats said the floor action was the 41st time that GOP lawmakers have voted to either repeal or defund the PPACA. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said HHS safeguards are already in place. “A system to verify the income of applicants for these credits and subsidies is already in place along with a system to verify that, at the end of each year, no American received more or less than the law allows,” Hoyer said.
By Stephen K. Cooper, CCH News Staff