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U.S. to drop health insurance coverage of 115,000 immigrants

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The Obama administration said that it is planning to drop the health insurance coverage of 115,000 people by Oct. 1 due to their failure to prove that they are American citizens or legal immigrants.

According to Andrew Slavitt, the affected people could have their health insurance reinstated if they are able to send in the required documents to keep their coverage.

Slavitt is the principal deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is the office that operates the federal insurance marketplace.

According to the administration, there were discrepancies found in the citizenship and immigration records of 966,000 people at the end of May. Most of these people had confirmed their legalities by sending in the requested documents, but there were still 310,000 people that failed to do so by the middle of August.

Letters were sent to the 310,000 people to again request for the documents, but so far, 115,000 have still not been able to send in the requirements before the set deadline of Sept. 5.

Many of the affected people, along with the lawyers that represent them, have said that they have attempted to send in their citizenship and immigration papers. However, there have been technical problems with the website, HealthCare.gov, when the documents were submitted there. 

In addition, some people who have submitted the requirements by mailing them to a Kentucky-based federal contractor said that they never received any response from the contractor or from the government regarding the submitted documents.

"It is unduly harsh to terminate coverage while there are still technical problems with the federal system for verifying citizenship and immigration status. And there has not been adequate notice to people who speak languages other than English and Spanish," said National Immigration Law Center health policy analyst Jenny Rejeske.

In addition to the people in danger of losing their health insurance coverage, 363,000 people have been told by the administration that they would lose the financial subsidies that they have been receiving because of the failure to verify data on their incomes, which is different from what is stated on records for federal taxes.

The 2014 Commonwealth Fund survey, released in June this year, found that the health care system of the United States ranked the lowest among 11 developed countries in terms of efficiency and quality.

The report revealed that the United States was spending $8,508 on health care for each person in 2011, while the United Kingdom, the best among the countries, was spending only $3,405.

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