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Chairman Smith Opening Statement: Markup of Health Care and Social Security Bills

June 07, 2023

As prepared for delivery.

“Too often, Washington gets in the way of Americans being able to take care of their families. If or when Congress is to be involved, it should be a partner with the American people, not a barrier. Today, the Committee is marking up legislation to cut red tape and support working families.

“The first two bills will help Americans, including parents of small children, navigate the complex web of government when Social Security numbers are compromised or stolen.

“The scale of identity fraud is stunning. Last year, 1,100 data breaches involved Social Security numbers. That’s three every day for an entire year. And that’s just the data breaches that were reported.

“I’m pleased we are coming together to provide peace of mind to Americans worried that they or their children will face financial ruin because a criminal stole their identity.

“Representatives Ferguson and Larson’s bill would establish a single point of contact at the Social Security Administration for individuals whose identities have been compromised so they don’t waste precious time explaining their case history to a different department every time they interact with the agency.

“In 2021, over 1 million children were the victims of identity fraud. Representatives Wenstrup and Blumenauer’s bill allows the Social Security Administration to quickly issue a new Social Security number to any child whose Social Security numbers have been compromised – before criminals have a chance to destroy their credit and cause more harm.

“These bills are a good first step in additional efforts the Committee will be making to help Americans better monitor the usage of their Social Security numbers and combat identity theft in the coming months.

“We will also be marking up six bills giving small businesses and their employees more health care options and flexibility while reducing outdated burdens.

“We are considering bills to increase flexibility for the more than half of American workers enrolled in high-deductible health plans. These policies are focused on giving businesses more flexibility to expand pre-deductible coverage for key medical services. Important changes like this will allow employers to defray costs for their workers who have been crushed by inflation.

“Representatives Wenstrup and Blumenauer’s bill allows employers the option to cover specific health services that help the tens of millions of Americans with chronic diseases treat conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.

“Additionally, expanding telehealth services is critical to ensure patients have access to care, especially for rural Americans. Representatives Steel and Lee’s bill, co-led with Representatives Adrian Smith and Schneider, will permanently allow pre-deductible coverage of telehealth appointments, making it easier for patients to see their doctor. I look forward to additional efforts this committee will take in regard to telehealth in the months to come.

“This is just the beginning of our work on access to care. I have appreciated all of our Committee Members’ efforts on both sides as it relates to the Field Hearings we have undertaken thus far, and we will continue those conversations including focusing on important topics like access to care.

“Small businesses should be focusing their time and resources on their employees and customers – not Washington mandates.

“Representatives Adrian Smith and Thompson’s bill will streamline reporting of Affordable Care Act requirements to ensure that small businesses are not subject to irresponsible IRS penalties.

“And legislation I’ve introduced along with Representative Panetta will eliminate an outdated paperwork burden for both small businesses and American families. Government is confusing enough; the last thing we should be doing is mailing millions of American families random tax forms they don’t need.

“Lastly, we have heard from small business owners at our field hearings how they can’t find workers to fill open positions. Our first health care hearing was specifically focused on identifying the causes of small business health care unaffordability and how we can help small businesses hire and retain workers through expanded health coverage options.

“Representative Tenney’s bill requires the Treasury Department to notify small businesses of the different tax-advantaged coverage options available to them, including the new and innovative CHOICE Arrangements, which provide tax-advantaged funds so employees can purchase their own portable health insurance plan.

“Representative Hern’s bill codifies CHOICE Arrangements into law so employers are certain this flexible option will be permanent. Mom-and-pop stores didn’t set out to be paper pushers and benefit managers. This bill allows small businesses to focus on serving their customers while giving employees more choice and flexibility in their health care options.

“Additionally, today we will advance a measure to maintain this Committee’s jurisdiction over the airport and airway trust fund as our colleagues on Transportation and Infrastructure Committee work towards a bipartisan reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The bills before us today are about finding common sense solutions to empower families, patients, workers, small business job creators and getting Washington out of the way. Thank you to all our members for the time and effort you have already put in to advancing these ideas, and I look forward to a productive markup today.”