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House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany, Jr., M.D, (R-LA) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) today announced that the subcommittees will hold a joint hearing on the verification system for income and eligibility for tax credits under the President’s health care law. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:30 A.M
In view of the limited time available to hear from witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing. A list of invited witnesses will follow.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created an income-based premium tax credit for certain individuals who purchase health insurance through the new Exchanges. The accuracy of these tax credits, which began this year, depends on multiple pieces of data, including an individual’s income and eligibility for affordable employer-sponsored insurance. The Administration’s 2013 decision to delay employer-reporting requirements has further complicated the government’s ability to verify an offer of “affordable employer-sponsored insurance.”
Without accurate income and insurance information, the government is unable to guarantee the accuracy of the tax credits, which are paid directly to insurance companies. The consequences of this failure may result in overpayments, which the ACA requires the IRS to recoup directly from individuals during the 2015 tax-filing season.
The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 required that “prior to making such credits and reductions available, the Secretary shall certify to the Congress that the Exchanges verify such eligibility consistent with the requirements of such Act.” Despite the difficulties in the launch of the Exchanges and healthcare.gov, on January 1, 2014, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius provided Congress with such certification. Subsequently, reports have indicated that the Department of Health and Human Services and the Exchanges are in fact having difficulty verifying income. For example, on May 17, The Washington Post reported, “The government may be paying incorrect subsidies to more than 1 million Americans for their health plans in the new federal insurance marketplace and has been unable so far to fix the errors.”
The hearing will explore the sufficiency of government’s procedures to verify income and insurance information and ensure the accuracy of premium tax credits. The hearing will also examine the challenges employers and individuals are likely to face in the 2015 tax-filing year due to new employer-reporting requirements and unexpected tax debt for individuals because of subsidy recapture.
In announcing the hearing, Chairman Boustany stated, “As with many other problems – from stimulus to healthcare.gov – the Administration prefers to spend taxpayer dollars first and ask questions later. The White House took a poorly written law and implemented it incompetently. At the end of the day, employers and individual taxpayers will pay the price. The Committee has been warning about this problem for some time, and has an obligation to continue holding the Administration accountable.”
In announcing the hearing, Chairman Brady stated, “It’s clear the ACA income and eligibility verification system is not ready and not complete. I’m deeply concerned about the fairness of imposing the risk and burden onto individual taxpayers for the disastrous implementation of this poorly designed law. Millions of Americans could be hit with a large and surprising tax bill on April 15th, and the White House doesn’t appear to be doing much to fix the problems.”
FOCUS OF THE HEARING:
The hearing will focus on the government’s ability to verify income and insurance information, ensure accuracy of premium tax credits, and the likely effect of these challenges on the 2015 tax-filing season.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit written comments for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on June 24, 2014. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-3625 or (202) 225-5522.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.