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Brady Opening Statement: Hearing on the Delay of the Employer Mandate

July 10, 2013

Today we are examining the Treasury Department’s strangely-timed announcement that it is delaying the enforcement of ObamaCare’s employer mandate for one year.

For the last several months we’ve heard the White House repeatedly pledge to Congress and the American people that the President’s Affordable Care Act will be ready on schedule.  Absolutely.  Take it to the bank.

In fact, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently insisted before this very Committee that the White House would not miss another ObamaCare deadline.  Not one.  Not again.

Shortly thereafter the nation learned in a blog post of the embarrassing failure by the White House to have this major pillar of the new law in place on schedule.

The Treasury Department’s announcement confirms our concerns – ObamaCare is simply not ready.

This Committee has serious questions about how and why this alarming decision was made and the effect that delaying this key provision will have on other provisions of the law – specifically the directive that individuals purchase government-approved health care or pay a tax.
There are also questions about the unprecedented manner in which it was announced: on an obscure Treasury blog site just two days before the 4th of July.
We invited Treasury officials to testify today to explain to the American people the rationale for the delay and how they announced this major setback.  However, they declined to appear today.  

Let me be clear, this Committee intends to get an explanation and will plan on Treasury officials appearing at a date in the near future.

Let’s also be clear about what this decision means.  This one-year reprieve doesn’t solve the problems of local businesses struggling to comply with ObamaCare.

The consequences of the mandate still remain:

  • Employers are still required to provide government-mandated coverage or pay a substantial tax;
  • Many local businesses continue to cut worker’s hours – and worker’s  paychecks – as they grapple to meet the ACA’s definition of a “full time employee”;
  • Many businesses are laboring to find more money for rising health care costs for themselves and their workers as costs increase;
  • And jobs are still at risk – up to 3.2 million in the franchise industry alone –  as local companies struggle with the onerous ObamaCare’s requirements.

For patients, families and their children, though, you have to wonder: if ObamaCare isn’t ready for businesses, is it ready for my family?  A lot of lives are at stake.  Quality health care is critical.  Everyone is aware the White House has also missed almost every key deadline in preparing this health care law for families and individuals.

The White House says it’s listening to the concerns of our nation’s businesses.  But are they ignoring the voices of American families and taxpayers?  
Unlike businesses and labor unions – which have been granted a reprieve – there’s been no delay of the individual mandate forcing average Americans to buy government-approved health insurance or pay a tax.

These families and individuals are also facing higher costs and skyrocketing premiums.  They have no relief from the new taxes in ObamaCare.  Today, three years after the passage of the President’s signature health care law, the majority of Americans disapprove of this law.  Who’s listening to them?  
If the government mandate to buy insurance has been postponed for businesses and labor unions, out of fairness shouldn’t it be postponed for families and individuals as well?
While the White House continues to suggest ObamaCare will be ready on October 1, the stunning delay of the employer mandate calls that into question.
Look at the pattern of delays and failures that have occurred since implementation began.
The CLASS Act proved unworkable and was abandoned. The onerous 1099 reporting mandate was overwhelmingly repealed.  The exchanges promised for small businesses failed to be ready on time and were delayed.  Significant parts of the law were found unconstitutional, 34 states have chosen not to build state exchanges, the technology-intensive data hub key to ObamaCare isn’t ready, the Navigator grants have not gone out to local communities … the list is growing, not shrinking as we get closer to October 1st.
Clearly the roll-out of ObamaCare is in disarray and experts are questioning whether the White House is competent enough to administer its own massive health care law.
The employer mandate delay could also have a profound impact on the federal budget and raises numerous questions.  How much less will the government collect because of the delay?   How many more people will end up or be forced into the Exchanges?  Without employer reporting requirements, how can we ensure subsidies are only going to those without offers of affordable insurance?

Again, it’s unfortunate that no Treasury officials are here today to answer these important questions.  The American people, Congress, and this Committee deserve these answers.  And we will get them.

But what we do know is that ObamaCare is making health care more expensive, costing Americans their jobs, shrinking their paychecks and preventing families from keeping the health care they have and like.

Instead of simply delaying enforcement of certain provisions of ObamaCare, it is clear this law must be repealed.