Friday, April 25, 2014
Written by Michelle Moodhe   

Enroll America Defends Mission After Group Asks IRS To Probe Tax Status

Posted: July 29, 2013

A spokesperson with Enroll America on Monday (July 29) dismissed an IRS complaint from government watchdog group Cause of Action charging that the nonprofit supporting ACA outreach and enrollment efforts should lose its tax-exempt status since its primary mission is to get people signed up for private health insurance.

A spokesperson with Enroll America on Monday (July 29) dismissed an IRS complaint from government watchdog group Cause of Action charging that the nonprofit supporting ACA outreach and enrollment efforts should lose its tax-exempt status since its primary mission is to get people signed up for private health insurance. Jessica Barb Brown of Enroll America tells Inside Health Policy that the IRS has already found that the group qualifies for 501(c)(3) status and that Cause of Action's complaint has no merit.

Cause of Action argued in its complaint that Enroll America is not functioning as a charitable organization, but is instead organized more like a trade association for the healthcare industry. The for-profit health providers represented on Enroll America's board of directors and advisory board stand to reap a substantial private benefit that is not shared by its intended beneficiaries. As a result, the group is improperly classified as a 501(c)(3) organization, Cause of Action contends. Cause of Action on Monday also said it would send a letter to Covered California to alert the state-based exchange board "of liabilities under federal and state laws and guidelines."

Enroll America, established shortly after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, last month launched its Get Covered America campaign to educate people about the health law's new coverage options.

The group, which has close ties to the White House, has come under fierce scrutiny by Republican lawmakers because of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' private sector fundraising activities to raise money for its outreach efforts.

Cause of Action targets California's exchange because it says Enroll America will be a liaison to state exchanges across the country.

"The risk of spending federal money in wasteful, fraudulent or abusive ways as they fund outreach activities to enroll the uninsured should put state exchanges on high alert," Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action, said in a statement. "Covered California creates a one-stop insurance marketplace, while conducting outreach similar to that of Enroll America, and we want these exchanges to be aware of the numerous laws and regulations that could present multiple liabilities for them as enrollment begins."

Epstein is former GOP counsel for oversight and investigations at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In response to the complaint, Enroll America says, "This complaint is completely without merit. Enroll America is focused solely on helping to educate American consumers about the new health insurance benefits created by the Affordable Care Act. The IRS has reviewed both the mission of Enroll America and in most cases the exact statements that Cause for Action is citing, and found that Enroll America qualifies for 501(c)(3) status." -- Rachana Dixit (This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )