by Chris Woodward
As part of the debt ceiling agreement, the Obama administration will be verifying income for subsidies in the new healthcare law. The verification issue has been a hot-button topic since the administration said earlier this year that subsidies could be awarded even if income could not be verified.
Hadley Heath of the Independent Women's Forum hopes this proves to be meaningful.
"It's important to have these income-verification mechanisms in place,” she acknowledges, “but like so much of the health legislation, I'm afraid that this provision will merely kick that responsibility into the administration or into some executive agency – and we haven't seen a lot of responsibility out of the administration in terms of implementation."
The IWF senior policy analyst believes the process for verifying income is important not just for the protection of taxpayers.
“It's [also] important to protect people who go the exchanges and accept subsidies on their behalf,” Heath explains. “Because if they're fraudulent or incorrectly applied to someone who’s not truly eligible, then that person could be on the hook for fines and penalties related to fraudulent subsidy use."
Under the new verification measure, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will report to Congress by January 1 how exactly the health insurance exchanges are verifying income. The inspector general will then report next summer on the effectiveness of the verification program.