Today’s hearing will examine two very important and complex regulations implementing reporting requirements of the Affordable Care Act’s mandates on local businesses and workers.
These regulations are long overdue. Businesses have been forced to wait four years since the passage of the law for the Treasury Department to finalize these rules.
In the meantime the regulatory process has set off controversy, political firestorms and executive delays.
And most importantly, this process is again raising the question of fairness.
Why has big business received better treatment than individual Americans?
- Why is it fair to enforce some of the law, but not others?
- Why it is fair to force some to comply while others are getting passes and delays?
Another significant question that needs asking, and will be hopefully answered today: What does any of this have to do with health care reform?
For all of the problems that did exist in our health care system prior to the ACA, the voluntary employer-based system was working. 160 million Americans received coverage from their employer – the largest source of health coverage in America.
The worst part about these regulations? They do nothing to lower the cost of health care – the purported-purpose of the “Affordable” Care Act.
Instead, this law adds layers upon layers of new costs, burdens and concerns about the privacy of government forcing businesses to gather and report private information about worker’s health care.
Workers I know aren’t really comfortable with the IRS gathering and holding data on their personal health care insurance decisions – and their families - for their lifetime. Why does the government need to know and track that?
Survey after survey of companies and health benefit experts show employers believe the ACA will add to their costs, not lower them.
Unfortunately, local businesses must now keep track of such new terms as: “look back” period, stability, aggregation rules and minimum value.
To ensure they follow these burdensome government requirements, they will worry if their health care plan meets the federal government’s definition of affordability.
They must now develop reporting systems, invest in new information technology systems and worry about the security of personal data about their workers and their worker’s families that they will be required to entrust to the scandal prone IRS.
And they must grapple with the reality that the information they collect and transmit to the federal government will be the main proof the IRS uses to enforce the wildly unpopular mandate that workers must buy government-approved health care or pay a tax - against their own employees.
Our witness today is Mark Iwry, a Senior Advisor to the Treasury Secretary and acknowledged expert on employee benefits law. I appreciate you coming back to this committee to discuss these important issues, and I am confident that Mr. Iwry will be able to answer any question about the technical details of both regulations.
But Mr. Iwry, here is my practical concern. I believe you are the only person in America who is capable of understanding these regulations. I am confident you understand how they relate to specific employer-employee arrangements, but I seriously doubt many companies do.
I know the business owners in my district with multiple franchises, low profit margins and high worker turnover have little idea how all of this is supposed to work.
I know they most likely do not have the extra money lying around to invest in the IT required to comply with the information reporting requirements.
These are complex issues and that is why the White House delayed the mandate on companies. But a one-year delay does not make any of this any less complex for the businesses in my district.
So I ask – what does any of this have to do with true health care reform that lowers health care costs?
Finally, the American people still have not been given an adequate answer about questions of fairness. We understand the mandate on businesses is costly, and that is why you gave big business a break. But why is it fair to not give the same break to individual Americans and their families?
Many families are frightened by the Affordable Care Act: the new plans they didn’t want, the higher premiums, and the doctors and hospitals they can no longer see.
They’re not alone. The Congressional Budget Office has stated that 8 million Americans are going to lose their health care insurance at work as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
That isn’t fair and it certainly isn’t health care reform. These are the questions surrounding these controversial reporting regulations. We hope to gain more insight today.