WASHINGTON Today, Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement during a hearing on the individual and employer mandates and associated penalties in the president’s health care law.
“With the successful replacement of the flawed formula for paying local doctors under Medicare nearly complete, I want to welcome everyone to the first hearing of the Health Subcommittee in the 114th Congress.
“And I’d like to offer an especially warm welcome to the new members of our subcommittee: Mrs. Jenkins, Mr. Marchant, Mrs. Black, and Mr. Davis.
“Joining us today are three qualified witnesses: Doug Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum, Scott Womack of Womack Restaurants, and Sabrina Corlette, a Senior Research Follow, Project Director and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. Welcome, as well.
“Tomorrow marks the end of tax season and with it, the annual ritual of navigating a needlessly complicated maze of IRS forms and regulations. New this year is the controversial mandate within the President’s Affordable Care Act that requires all Americans to buy government-approved health care or pay the Internal Revenue Service.
“Also this year, local businesses with more than 100 full time workers will also be forced to comply with an ACA mandate to offer qualified health care or pay the IRS.
“Now, we’ve been told that these mandates are an essential part of President Obama’s health care law, that they’re absolutely necessary to control costs and keep everyone insured. Without these mandates, we are warned, health insurance markets would not be able to function properly.
“Here’s the irony: Before the ACA, too many Americans couldn’t afford to buy insurance because it was too expensive. Now the President’s law makes insurance even more expensivethen forces them to buy it.
“What Obamacare does is force people to pay for health care plans they don’t want, can’t afford. And for some this meant losing the coverage they already had. This should come as no surprise. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t let people pick a plan that fits their needs. Instead, the law forces Americans to chose from a list of plans that Washington picks for them and forces them to buy it.
“This is not how affordable health care reform should work. Washington should not be in the business of telling Americans how much health care they need and then penalizing them if they decide to go their own way. Even the President at one point was against this mandate, stating that ‘a mandate means that in some fashion, everybody will be forced to buy health insurance. . . . But I believe the problem is not that folks are trying to avoid getting health care. The problem is they can’t afford it.’
“We should empower families and patients and put them at the center of the health care system, not government bureaucrats. So I believe we can do better. I think we can both lower the cost of health care and encourage people to buy coverageall without taxes or mandates or penalties.
“One idea is to give people a portable, advanceable tax credit that you could use to help pay for any health care plan you buyregardless of where you buy it. Another is to give people more choices. Let them choose plans that work for them, like high-deductible health care plans and health savings accounts.
“These are just some ideas that would lower costs and encourage more people to buy coverage. And nobody would have to buy something they didn’t want.
“I know members on both sides of this committee have strong feelings about the law’s individual and employer mandates, and I look forward to our discussion today.“