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

July 17, 2013

This is our second hearing on the controversial decision by the Treasury Department to delay for one year President Obama’s Affordable Care Act mandate forcing local businesses to offer government-approved health care or pay a tax.  Today, at last, we will hear directly from the Treasury Department.  
What families and workers in my district are asking is this:

  • Isn’t it unfair to grant business relief from the government mandate but still force average workers to comply with their mandate?  
  • If the President’s health care law isn’t ready for business, how is it ready for my family, my child, my loved one?

At its heart, both families and workers are worried and wondering “Why isn’t the White House listening to us? This isn’t fair.” The President has proclaimed “the law is working the way it’s supposed to” and the White House, Treasury and Health & Human Services continue to repeatedly assure the public everything is on schedule.
But here is what’s not on schedule:

  • The CLASS Act: repealed
  • 1099 business reporting requirement: repealed
  • Small Business Exchanges: delayed
  • Mandate on Employers: delayed
  • The Data Hub: behind schedule
  • Income verification: postponed
  • Employer insurance verification: delayed

This is the Affordable Care Act “working the way it’s supposed to?”
While the goal of the July 4th holiday blog post was to downplay this latest embarrassing admission of failure, it accomplished the opposite.  It made clear ObamaCare is not ready.  Nowhere near ready.  
While the temporary relief from the employer mandate was welcome news, it didn’t solve the serious problems our local businesses are struggling with under ObamaCare.  

In fact, the President’s health care law, and its troubled implementation, is causing more confusion and more uncertainty which will continue to stop local businesses from hiring.
Workers are seeing fewer hours and smaller paychecks. That’s not fair.
Businesses are struggling to find the money to pay for higher health care costs under ObamaCare.  That’s not fair.
Our neighbors are struggling to find full-time work – more than 20 million of them in America – are finding fewer jobs to apply for.  That’s not fair.
And now workers, who depend on affordable health care for their families and loved ones, don’t get the same special treatment that businesses are getting from the White House.  How is that fair?
And just how are workers supposed to comply with the law?
Federal law says that before getting a subsidy, they have to determine if you have an offer of affordable coverage that meets government approval.  Are they supposed to contact their employer, or spouse’s employer?

And what if they get it wrong?  One witness last week laid it out very clearly – they could face a fine up to $25,000.
No wonder this law remains unpopular with Americans, with a poll saying 56 percent of Americans want to see the individual mandate delayed.

Even prominent labor union leaders are now predicting ObamaCare will shatter their health benefits and destroy the backbone of the middle class.  Why is the White House ignoring the voices of middle class Americans? Why aren’t they listening to average workers?  
This is Washington, so we can predict that some will attempt to dismiss these questions by saying it’s all just politics, that Republicans are trying for the 39th time to repeal ObamaCare.  But it’s the White House that delayed this important mandate, not Republicans.  
Others will claim the employer mandate isn’t really important, although in this very committee they fiercely defended the mandate as one of the twin pillars of ObamaCare.  

And still others will hysterically claim postponing the mandate will harm children with pre-existing conditions and young people wanting to stay on their parents plans until age 26 – but of course those laws stay firmly in place if we treat workers the same way businesses have been treated by the White House.
Today, the Treasury Department’s acknowledgement that it is not ready for businesses is the first step.  The obvious next step is to acknowledge the same problems exist for individuals and that the same relief should be given to families.  
That would be fair.