White House Announces Plan To Combat Obamacare Fraud

The Obama administration introduced Wednesday consumer protections against fraud that will inevitably pop up as the Affordable Care Act rolls out next month.

Among the top measures is the call center for the federal-run health insurance marketplace, which will serve consumers in more than 30 states. Staff will be trained to handle consumer complaints and refer them to the Federal Trade Commission. The marketplace’s website will also include a link to the FTC’s online consumer complaint center.

All complaints will be logged in a FTC database that will be accessible by federal and state officials, senior administration officials told reporters in a conference call, including state attorneys general and U.S. district attorneys. A monitoring system will also be in place on the back end of the federal marketplace, so officials will be immediately informed if a marketplace worker tries to access information outside of their security clearance.

A rapid-response system has been set up so such breaches can be mitigated and reports can be filed to initiate criminal investigations if necessary, the officials said.

Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez met Wednesday at the White House with senior administration officials and select state policymakers to go over the plans.

As the Washington Post has reported, scams centered on Obamacare have already been identified and more are expected once the law’s enrollment period begins on Oct. 1. Some fake insurance marketplace websites have been taken down; other reports indicate that scammers are calling individuals, asking for personal information for reasons associated with the 2010 health care reform law.

Other potential schemes could target seniors enrolled in Medicare, who would be told that they need to sign up for Obamacare, according to the senior administration officials.

The officials said that current fraud was relatively limited, and the plans announced Wednesday were intended to be preemptive.

“This is not a situation where we are seeing any large amount of fraud at this point,” one official said, “but this is about being ahead of the issues.”