On the heels of concern over how the administration will be able to verify data in subsidy applications, the Obama administration has hired the credit reporting agency Equifax Workforce Solutions, a unit of Equifax Inc., to help verify the incomes of people who apply for federal subsidies to buy insurance under the new health care law. Equifax will provide more current information than what is available from federal income tax returns, according to a report in The New York Times.
Subsidies, which will be in the form of tax credits, will be available to millions of low- and moderate-income people who are not eligible for Medicaid and have not been offered affordable coverage by employers.
Under rules published in Federal Register, an exchange may, in some cases, rely on what consumers say about their income and employer-sponsored coverage if such information is not available from employers or other sources.
Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, told the Times it was “little more than an honor system for billions of dollars of premium subsidies.”
Federal officials will rely on Equifax to verify income and employment and could extend the initial 12-month contract. The Times said that contract documents show that Equifax must provide income information “in real time,” usually within a second of receiving a query from the federal government. Equifax says much of its information comes from data that is provided by employers and updated each payroll period.