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Washington Post: 1 million Americans may be getting incorrect Obamacare subsidies.

This passage from the Washington Post on yet another problem with Obamacare is not the one that will give the administration fits:

The government may be paying incorrect subsidies to more than 1 million Americans for their health plans in the new federal insurance marketplace and has been unable so far to fix the errors, according to internal documents and three people familiar with the situation.

The problem means that potentially hundreds of thousands of people are receiving bigger subsidies than they deserve. They are part of a large group of Americans who listed incomes on their insurance applications that differ significantly — either too low or too high — from those on file with the Internal Revenue Service, documents show.

…it’s this one:

The government has identified these discrepancies but is stuck at the moment.

Basically, the software that could reconcile income inconsistencies hasn’t been written yet; shoot, it’s still considered to be a lower priority than the software that would confirm that an Obamacare applicant are citizens/legal residents (which also hasn’t been written yet, apparently).  The administration, in its boundless wisdom, decided to handle this problem by simply estimating the subsidy in problem cases.  If it’s too low, they’ll probably cut the applicant a check or give a tax credit.  Eventually. Probably before the end of the decade.  But if the subsidy is too high… well, the government is going to need that tax money immediately.

This is where you distinguish the wonks from the politicos, by the way.  The former won’t understand why the latter are wincing at the situation, and the latter will wonder how on earth the former manage to go through life without a keeper.

More seriously… this is a timed demolition sort of problem.  The GOP will campaign on it this year, to a limited extent: as the WaPo admitted, the administration promised to push for precisely this in last year’s debt ceiling deal.  That they’ve apparently done nothing along those lines will probably be a minor theme in some races.  But the big problem will hit when HHS finally gets the system to work. When that happens a lot of people are going to get slammed with big, honking tax bills… and they’re going to receive a remarkable lack of sympathy from Obamacare partisans over it, too.

Just in time for the 2016 elections, probably.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

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