By Elizabeth Hartfield
(CNN) -- Over 300,000 individuals who enrolled in a healthcare plan through the Affordable Care Act could lose their coverage come the end of September if they fail to provide the proper documentation demonstrating legal residency, according to the Obama administration.
The issue at hand is not necessarily an immigration status problem, but a data-matching issue.
The cases refer to individuals who have inconsistencies in the information they provided when they initially enrolled in a healthcare plan. The CMS, which oversees the federal healthcare exchange, said it has been reaching out to affected individuals via email, phone calls and letters, in English and Spanish, for several months. And while many cases have been resolved, there are around 310,000 consumers with outstanding documentation issues.
"We've closed about 450,000 of these cases and have an additional 210,000 cases in progress," CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner said Tuesday in a statement. "However, some still have not responded. We want as many consumers as possible to remain enrolled in Marketplace coverage, so we are giving these individuals a last chance to submit their documents before their coverage through the Marketplace will end."
Consumers have until September 5 to provide the necessary documents, and coverage will end for those who do not on September 30 - although if an individual provides information that resolves their issue after the September 5 deadline they will be eligible to re-enroll in the marketplace through a special enrollment period.
Immigration statuses that qualify for coverage under the ACA are listed on the healthcare.gov website. The list includes lawful permanent residents, refugees, victims of trafficking, among others. Officials from HHS caution that these data issues may not necessarily be an problem with the consumer's eligibility for a plan, but rather a bureaucratic problem.
Opponents of the ACA have long warned that the enrollment site is not adept at verifying the eligibility of applicants, and these latest numbers are another example of that on-going issue. A report released in June from the office of the inspector general for the HHS found "deficiencies" in some of the controls meant to prevent fraudulent or incorrect information submitted by applicants to the Federal marketplace.
The 310,000 cases only refers to those who enrolled in federal or partnership marketplaces. The 14 states that have implemented their own healthcare marketplaces are not included, as they have separate data respective to their state's enrollees.
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310,000 may be dropped from healthcare coverage due to residency documentation
By Elizabeth Hartfield
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