A bill that would delay subsidies under President Obama’s health care law until the law’s anti-fraud measures are implemented passed the House on Thursday, and now Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has introduced a version of the bill in the Senate.
In July, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that, in the face of logistical problems, it would weaken fraud measures that were initially adopted by Democrats as a way of ensuring that subsidies for individuals to purchase insurance were getting to the right people.
Instead of using multiple databases to verify income data from individuals as originally intended, the federal government will increasingly rely on beneficiaries’ own claims before handing out subsidies.
At the time, I argued, “If Republicans were smart, they’d draft a bill based on the following mantra: ‘No Subsidization Without Verification.’ That is, they should take a stand that nobody can receive subsidies through Obamacare before the government has a system in place that can independently verify the information as accurate.”
Within weeks, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., introduced the “No Subsidies Without Verification Act,” or H.R. 2775, which accomplished precisely this. On Thursday, the bill passed the House 235 to 191.
Following the vote, Coburn filed a companion bill in the Senate.
As I have been arguing for months, this would be a much more sensible path for Republicans to pursue than to latch onto the emotionally satisfying but doomed to fail defund effort. If this bill were to pass, it would effectively delay the central part of Obamacare indefinitely, because the administration has already made clear that implementation of “the proposed rule is not feasible for implementation for the first year of operations.”
And if Democrats block this measure (which I assume is likely), it would publicize another flaw in Obamacare and force Democrats to go on record in favor of doling out hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies without putting in place the anti-fraud measures they once deemed necessary. Let them defend their position once reports inevitably start surfacing about fraud within Obamacare.
“At a time when reformers are debating the best way to defund, repeal and replace Obamacare, this approach stands out as a successful path forward,” Coburn said in a statement. “The American people want results, not rhetoric. They are tired of gimmicky quick-fix strategies that are designed to help Washington politicians and fundraisers rather than change laws and help patients and working families. Reformers have shown time again that Obamacare can be undermined when we unite around sound strategies.”