House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) today announced that the Committee will hold a hearing on the current status of the Obama Administration’s efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Committee will hear testimony from Daniel Werfel, Principal Deputy Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Gary Cohen, Deputy Administrator and Director at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The hearing will take place on Thursday, August 1, 2013, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 A.M.
In view of the limited time available to hear from the witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from the invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
On October 1, 2013, open enrollment is scheduled to begin in 51 new health care Exchanges. While the majority of Americans will continue to obtain qualified coverage through an employer, others will seek coverage through the Exchange. The ACA requires that the Exchanges perform multiple functions, including coordinating and sharing information across several federal agencies. The ACA tasks both HHS and the IRS with extensive new responsibilities that must be carried out in order for the Exchanges to properly function and efficiently enroll millions of Americans into private health care plans offered in conjunction with the ACA’s requirement that individuals purchase government-approved insurance. Alternatively, those that chose to remain uninsured will pay a tax.
The building of the Exchanges represents one of the largest information technology projects in U.S. history. The success or failure of implementation will determine, in part, on whether Americans face higher or lower premiums, whether individuals understand how or if they need to purchase coverage through the Exchange, whether subsidies are administered accurately and efficiently, and whether the Exchanges are prepared to properly handle the personal information of millions of Americans.
While the Administration has testified that implementation is on schedule, recent regulatory announcements have raised concerns about readiness of a program that is a hallmark of the law. On Tuesday July 2, 2013, a posting on a U.S. Treasury tax blog announced that the employer reporting requirements and the employer mandate tax penalties “will not apply until 2015.” On July 5, 2013, HHS regulations revealed that for 2014, the Administration would rely extensively on self-attestation of an individual’s income and offer of employer-sponsored insurance when enrolling in an Exchange. The announcement raises new questions about whether the decision, reached in part because the employer reporting requirements have been delayed, could expose individuals to new penalties resulting from unintentional reporting mistakes. The announcements follow a June 2013 Government Accountability Office report about the status of the Exchanges which warned, “much remains to be accomplished within a relatively short amount of time … [and] suggest a potential for implementation challenges going forward … Whether CMS’s contingency planning will assure the timely and smooth implementation of the exchanges by October 2013 cannot yet be determined.”
This hearing will examine the status of efforts of both HHS and the IRS to implement the provisions of the Affordable Care Act under their jurisdiction. The hearing will seek answers to why delays are occurring, if any additional delays should be expected, and whether in fact the Exchanges will be ready to fulfill all of their required functions on October 1, 2013.
In announcing the hearing, Chairman Camp stated, “Members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, have raised concerns about whether ObamaCare will be ready and will work on October 1st. The Administration’s repeated promises that ‘we’ll be ready,’ is simply not a sufficient response. Amidst growing, independent evidence that the Administration is far behind schedule, Congress and the American people need specific answers. The American people want to know how much their health insurance plans will cost, how and where to accurately comply with the new law, and assurance that this massive new data collection is safe, secure, and will protect their personal information.”
FOCUS OF THE HEARING:
The hearing will focus on the status of the Obama Administration’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, https://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Thursday, August 8, 2013. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.