Investigators at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) have found that the U.S. Department of Health Human Services (HHS) still has little apparent ability to keep fake applicants from enrolling or re-enrolling in public exchange plans.
Seto Bagdoyan, a director at the congressional watchdog agency, testified about the investigators’ findings today during a hearing on HealthCare.gov controls organized by the Senate Finance Committee.
He gave committee members an update on a project the GAO told the committee about a year ago.
A year ago, Bagdoyan gave senators a brief account of the GAO’s succcess at getting Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange coverage for undercover investigators. This time around, Bagdoyan gave more details about exchange application processing, talked about how the fake enrollees dealt with HealthCare.gov identity-proofing checks, and shed some light on problems with in-person assisters.
The GAO investigators used public information to create documentation and life stories for 18 different fake Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchange applicants. The investigators had six people apply for exchange coverage from the HHS HealthCare.gov exchange enrollment system, and six through a HealthCare.gov call center.
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The investigators also had six of the fake applicants try to apply for coverage through navigators and other in-person assisters, Bagdoyan testified, according to a written version of his testimony posted on the Finance Committee website.
Some of the fake applicants provided no Social Security number, or an invalid Social Security number. Many provided fake documentation of income or immigration status.
A call center rep bounced one of the fake applicants who refused to provide a Social Security number.
Exchange systems processed all of the other 11 HealthCare.gov and call center applications. The investigators got the HealthCare.gov applicants past identity-proofing problems by having them talk to call center reps and having the fake applicants fill in gaps with verbal attestations made under penalty of perjury, Bagdoyan said.