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Just a few months ago, in testimony before this Committee, Secretary Sebelius repeatedly told Congress and the American people that the Obama Administration “was on track to meet the October 1 deadline” for the new healthcare law. However, over the past two months, the evidence shows just the opposite is true:
1. In June, the Government Accountability Office released two reports which raised serious questions about whether the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would be able to have federally-run Exchanges up and running by October 1, 2013, noting numerous reasons for their concerns.
2. In late July, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration stated that testing for the Exchanges would be difficult to complete before the October 1 date, and as a result Americans will see significant delays and errors.
3. Right before the July 4 holiday, the Administration announced by blog post a delay of a major provision of the law – the employer mandate. Giving employers relief, but doing nothing to aid hardworking Americans.
4. Three days later, Health and Human Services announced they would rely on a self-verification system when it comes to who gets subsidies. And, just this week, we learned that by delaying the mandate, another $12 billion will be added to the deficit. It will also increase federal spending by a total of $3 billion in new Exchange subsidies because the delay will result in fewer employers offering coverage.
With these facts at hand, you will have to forgive me if I am skeptical of the claims that everything is “on track.” It has been over three years since the law was passed, and in just 60 days the Exchanges are due to be up and running, but we still do not have answers to many crucial questions – and worse yet, neither do the American people.
How is the average, hardworking taxpayer expected to navigate the ObamaCare exchanges in just a few short months when the Administration has provided no information as to what the real cost will be or what their health insurance will look like? To quote one of my Democratic colleagues, “[W]hen is the White House going to actually get up and go?”
As though the concerns and questions about implementation weren’t enough, almost daily we are reminded of the effects the law is having on the economy. Businesses are struggling to figure out how to comply with the law, how it will affect their business, and whether they will have to cut hours, wages or jobs in order to comply.
After the Administration announced the employer mandate delay, one small business owner testified before this Committee that, “As a business owner, I worked on the fourth of July and I worried about it. And I fielded calls from other franchisees asking what this meant on the Fourth of July.” Our job creators – and their employees – deserve better.
The uncertainty is growing all over the country, and the American people need answers to the questions that millions of families and individuals are asking:
- “Why are my premiums skyrocketing?”
- “How can I expand my business, hire new workers, give my employees a raise when I am being hit with all these new mandates, regulations and red tape?”
- “Why am I losing the insurance I have and like?”
And, as if college students were not already struggling with dim prospects of finding a job upon graduation, the healthcare law is placing an even greater burden on the young. Central Michigan University, a university in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, just announced that they will have to limit college students work hours to 25 hours a week. As one student said, “Students use that money to pay for finances and school and I think it’s going to become increasingly harder for them to pay for school when we can only work 25 hours.”
And, as if Americans didn’t have reason enough to fear the IRS, we now know that it is in no position to implement the 47 new powers and authority given to it under the health care law. In fact, it is likely Americans will be at even greater risk of having their identity stolen or private taxpayer information leaked as a result of the law.
Even the Treasury’s Inspector General, less than two weeks ago, stated the IRS will struggle to complete all required testing. The Inspector General is not confident about the IRS’s ability to protect confidential taxpayer information or to prevent fraud, and neither am I.
This law is become increasingly unfair, unworkable and untenable for Americans. With just three months left, patients, doctors and hardworking taxpayers still have more questions than answers. I look forward to hearing an honest, straightforward assessment of the status of this law from our witnesses.