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Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pauses during her testimony before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about issues and complications with the Affordable Care Act enrolment website, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 30, 2013. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst) Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pauses during her testimony before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about issues and complications with the Affordable Care Act enrolment website, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 30, 2013. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)  

House Republicans doubt Obamacare subsidy calculations

House Republicans think there are a lot of people out there like Jessica Sanford.

Sanford was touted by President Obama in a Rose Garden speech as a sterling example of Obamacare’s success. But then she found out she couldn’t afford health insurance under the law. The government had merely miscalculated her subsidies.

House Republicans doubt the Obama administration can certify that other people are getting the right information from the exchanges.

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee are asking Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for more details about the income verification system in the Obamacare exchanges.

Tax credits are available to qualified consumers that earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level to lessen the cost of pricey premiums, but there have been repeated reports that subsidy calculations aren’t working right.

“The law requires you to certify to Congress that a system is in place that can accurately verify eligibility before the tax credits are made available,” the committee wrote. “We do not believe you can make that certification today.”

The Washington state exchange recently notified 8,000 residents that due to an error in the tax credit calculations, the original prices they were given for their insurance plans on the exchange were too low. Sanford, the most famous case, wound up uninsured.

Other exchanges suffered their own shares of miscalculations as well. Washington, D.C.’s online exchange didn’t offer pricing or eligibility determination for subsidies throughout October due to error rates of up to 15 percent.

These errors were found in state exchanges, “which are widely regarded as working more effectively than the federal government-run Exchanges,” the Republicans noted.

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp asked Sebelius, “Given that to date you have not forwarded the required certification” that subsidies are correct, “are we correct in assuming that you do not believe you could make that certification today?”

Committee members asked Sebelius to respond by Nov. 27 at the latest.

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