The development of a Medicaid system that will have to integrate with a health care insurance exchange program will also have to coordinate with the Internal Revenue Service to verify some Idahoans' income information.
Dick Armstrong, head of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), told members of the House Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday that as part of 2010's federal health reforms, the Gem State's Medicaid system will have to work with the IRS to verify income information of program applicants.
“The IRS connection is really a source verification tool for us,” Armstrong told lawmakers, speaking on how his agency checks income data provided by Medicaid applicants. “It is our job to verify those facts are correct.”
Armstrong told IdahoReporter.com that his agency is “very serious” about delivering the correct benefits to program recipients. He said the federal government will penalize his agency for too many errors, including delivery of benefits either too high or too low.
But that’s not the only state program that will be forced to check data with the IRS. If the state decides to implement an insurance exchange – or if the state opts to forgo the program and let the feds do it – most Idahoans purchasing insurance in the online marketplace will have their incomes verified through the IRS.
That’s because most state residents will qualify for federal health insurance subsidies. In order give proper subsidies, state officials must check with the IRS to ensure the correct amount is being given. Families of four with annual incomes up to $88,000 will qualify for some sort of subsidy.
Armstrong says that if Idahoans don’t want DHW verifying their information through the IRS, they shouldn’t apply for subsidies through the exchange or utilize Medicaid. “It really is the citizen’s choice,” Armstrong said.
Checking data with federal departments isn't entirely new, however. The state agency has more than 20 databases it checks to document program applicant data, including some federal bureaus.
For example, Homeland Security is on the top of the list for the food stamp program within DHW. If an applicant’s citizenship cannot be verified through Homeland Security, the process is either delayed or halted until documentation is found.
Some state agencies, including the Department of Labor, are also utilized to verify other essential data, including an applicant's work history.