Ranking Member Lewis Opening Statement at Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on Cost-Sharing Reduction Program

Jul 7, 2016
Press Release

(Remarks as prepared)

Good Morning.  Let me begin by thanking all of the witnesses for being here today.  In particular, I would like to thank the Commissioner for joining us again.  The Commissioner is an honorable man who has faithfully served this country.  I would like to quote the former IRS Chief Risk Officer: “He is not only a phenomenal leader but one of the best managers we’ve ever had in government.” 

Mr. Chairman, I must say that I am very disappointed with today’s hearing topic.  I am afraid it is nothing more than another attempt to roll back health care reform. Almost two years ago, House Republicans filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over the funding for the cost sharing reduction (CSR) program.  This program simply helps lower-income people afford medical costs.  Today, over 6 million Americans have been helped. Today, over 6 million have better access to care.

To be clear, the lawsuit claims that this program needs annual funding from Congress.  The Administration argues that it does not.  Mr. Chairman, this is a lawsuit between two branches of government where both parties agree on the facts.  So I respectfully ask, “what is the point of this hearing?”  Why are we placing public servants in the middle of an ongoing legal case?  Some might argue that we are here because the work of the Committee is being blocked.  This is just not true. 

For the record, there are four government officials representing four different agencies here today.  The administration has voluntarily provided 13 current and former officials for interviews on this matter – 13.  The lawsuit is still pending in the courts.  It is ongoing.  Yet here we are. 

Mr. Chairman, there is real work to be done; there are real issues that need to be addressed.  This is not it.  We should not waste time and energy debating how to tear apart the good parts of health care reform.  We should not be trying to roll back what helps people make ends meet.  We can, and we must do better.

Mr. Chairman, I deeply believe that this Subcommittee can do good work on behalf of the American people.  I am hopeful that we will return to that work soon.  Thank you.