The warning flag from the tax preparation industry about the IRS being unprepared to roll out Obamacare has gone from concern to crisis. Two new reports from the Government Accountability Office, released Wednesday, bolster the idea that the new law could cause chaos for consumers and small businesses.
In its first investigation, GAO found that the government is not prepared to facilitate the creation of health insurance exchanges that allow individuals to purchase insurance in the 34 states that have refused to set them up. Of these 34, 15 have agreed to help the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) set up exchanges. GAP determined that CMS is not prepared to do so.
“To support consumer-eligibility determinations, for example, CMS is developing a data hub that will provide electronic, near real-time access to federal data, as well as provide access to state and third-party data sources needed to verify consumer-eligibility information,” GAO found. “While CMS has met project schedules, several critical tasks, such as final testing with federal and state partners, remain to be completed.”
The second GAO report found that CMS was also unprepared to properly operate the Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP), the exchanges that are expected to be created to give small business owners the opportunity to buy insurance for their employees. As in the case of the individual exchanges, CMS is behind schedule.
“Many activities remain to be completed in the core functional areas of eligibility and enrollment, plan management, and consumer assistance, and while the agency has established timelines for completion of these activities, some were behind schedule,” GAO determined.
These exchanges are the key to making the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, work. The Washington Post reportedly recently that 2.7 million young people need to buy insurance through these exchanges. And Obamacare simply won’t work without small businesses signing on.
The GAO reports follow The Fiscal Times’ reporting on problems with Obamacare rollout. The tax preparation industry is not only worried the IRS is unprepared; they’re also concerned that many accountants have no idea what’s required of them and their clients under the new law.
House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), the lawmaker who requested the report on the small business exchanges, said they were indicative of the widespread problems he believes the country will face during Obamacare implementation.
“This GAO report confirms our suspicions about the implementation of the health care law,” Graves said. “The law is indeed a train wreck with no relief in sight.”