Top Administration Official Responsible for Law's Implementation Repeatedly Tells Subcommittee, “I Think We Have to Wait and See” What Costs Will Be
WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), today held a hearing on “The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) and the Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” With the January 1, 2014, deadline for full implementation of the president’s health care law rapidly approaching, the subcommittee heard from CCIIO Director Gary Cohen, who leads the agency responsible for implementation of the law.
“The American people have been promised good coverage that is also affordable. We all remember the many promises that were made in the rush to pass the PPACA by any means necessary. That if you liked your coverage you could keep it. Yet, we see many stories about impending doctor shortages, and companies faced with the tough decision of whether to continue providing coverage,” said Chairman Murphy. “Most recently we have heard many stories about the health care law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund — most notably that money from this fund is being utilized to hire thousands of health care ‘navigators’ who will assist the public in signing up for Obamacare. Considering that we have also heard that funding from the Prevention fund is being used on many different projects, we are concerned that it is being raided as an ever-ready piggy bank to throw money at and hide the many problems inherent with implementing Obamacare.”
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added, “We are just eight months from the full implementation and by all accounts the Obama administration does not have its act together. It does not bode well when, just last week, a top supporter of the president and leading Senate architect of the law publicly warned the HHS Secretary that he sees a ‘train wreck’ coming. The alarm bells over how Obamacare will unfold are getting louder by the day: costs are going up, insurers are warning about premium increases, and small businesses are struggling with the choice about whether they can provide employees with coverage.”
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) highlighted a list of Obamacare programs that have been “either delayed, closed enrollment because they weren’t ready for prime time, or just outright repealed because they were so bad.” When responding to Scalise’s questioning, Cohen maintained that implementation of the affordable care act is “on track.” Watch their exchange here.
Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) questioned whether premiums would decrease $2,500 as promised repeatedly by President Obama. Cohen repeatedly told the subcommittee, “I think we have to wait and see” what happens next year. Johnson responded, “That’s a theme that has persisted in this law: ‘wait and see.’ Pass it and let’s see what happens down the road. Well I’ll tell you what, that’s a dangerous way to navigate a ship like America’s economy.” Watch their exchange here.
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) followed-up and asked Cohen point blank, “Will health care costs be less next year after the implementation of this bill?” Cohen responded that he can’t answer what is going to happen to costs next year. Watch their exchange here.