The Pryor Times

September 22, 2013

Stopping improper payments


Rep. Markwayne Mullin

— Last week the House voted to hold the distribution of Obamacare subsidies until there is a program in place to ensure an applicant actually meets eligibility requirements. Right now, the only mechanism for verification of these subsidies is self-reporting and sample audits. I voted in favor of the bill, H.R. 2775, to protect taxpayers.

It’s a responsible step given that in Fiscal Year 2012, $108 billion in improper payments were made by our federal government, according to the website paymentaccuracy.gov.

Over the next 10 years the Obamacare entitlements are expected to cost over $1 trillion. Having no real mechanism to verify eligibility for these subsidies is an invitation for more fraud, abuse and improper payments.  The Wall Street Journal recently estimated the fraud in Obamacare could reach $250 billion in 10 years.

The White House already said it plans to veto this commonsense protection of taxpayer dollars because they claim mechanisms for eligibility verification already exist. Clearly they don’t care about safeguarding tax dollars when they call taking someone’s word that they are eligible as an “efficient and effective” system for verification.

Included on the government’s list of high-error programs are unemployment insurance (11.4 percent), the National School Lunch Program (15.5 percent), Medicare Advantage Part C (11.4 percent) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (22.7 percent). Other high-error programs are Medicare Fee-for-Service (8.5 percent) and Supplemental Security Income (9.2 percent).

These programs are part of the safety net America has to help those who can’t help themselves. Every dollar should be carefully managed so there is money available to help those who truly need the assistance.

When we are looking at all options to reduce waste and protect tax dollars, $108 billion in improper payments made last fiscal year are a big deal. That would more than replace sequester. It’s a significant chunk of money that the government is losing at the expense of across-the-board cuts and furlough days.

In the private sector, if a company is making payments to the wrong recipient, overpaying or making payments to a vendor that doesn’t provide the proper documentation, then the company won’t be around for long. It is that simple.

Every day, private sector business owners make the necessary decisions required to keep their company solvent and ensure their employees have a job from one pay period to the next. Long-term stability for our companies is what we strive for every day.

The politicians and bureaucrats, who likely have never had the responsibility of signing the front of a pay check, refuse to make the decisions to keep our government on long-term stable fiscal footing. They pay the concept lip service and then continue on with business as usual and thumb their noses at the taxpayers footing the bill.

Requiring some measure of verification beyond taking a person’s word is a reasonable and smart approach. Yet the Obamacare advocates who oppose this commonsense measure keep the rest of us shaking our heads and saying, “Only in government.”