Administration Refuses to Answer Simple Questions About Its Abrupt Changes To Obamacare

July 18, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The Obama administration took the July 4 holiday to rewrite major components of Obamacare, prompting many serious questions from Congress regarding how and why these decisions were made and what is the true status of implementation. In an effort to get answers, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), today held a hearing to hear from the Treasury Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Retirement and Health Policy Mark Iwry, who was involved in the administration’s decision. Immediately following the July 2 delay of the employer mandate, committee leaders also sent a letter to the Treasury Department.

“In the three years since the president’s health care law was enacted, this committee has also been listening and we’ve heard this administration repeatedly tell us that ‘all is well.’ That exchanges would be ready to go live in October. Never once did administration officials suggest that a key underpinning of the law – the requirement that employers offer federally-approved health benefits and pay extra taxes if they didn’t – would be delayed. Why did the administration give businesses a waiver from the law for a full year, but force individual Americans to comply with the law now or pay a new tax? Where is the waiver for the American people?” asked Chairman Murphy. “It is interesting that the Treasury Department chose to explain that the employer mandate was delayed for two reasons: first, it will allow the administration to find ways to simplify the reporting requirements in the law. Second, this provides time to adapt reporting systems. These same reasons support a delay in the individual mandate.” Watch Murphy’s opening remarks here.

“Yesterday the House voted to give to every American the same option the administration gave to the business community: the ability to delay the impact of the health care law on their family for one year. This is the right thing to do,” added full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “And yesterday we learned the decision was made in June and the administration had been considering the delay ‘for a while.’ Why did the ‘most transparent administration in history’ mislead Congress and try to deceive the public? Because it knew that the law is bad for business and bad for jobs. We now know the administration shamelessly waited for July 4th fireworks to provide a smokescreen for their employer mandate bombshell.”

Vice Chairman of the Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) questioned Iwry regarding the timeline of the administration’s decision, and the process by which that decision was made. Iwry was not able to provide the date the decision was made, nor who made the final decision to delay the mandate and if that person was a Treasury Department or a White House official. Watch the exchange here.

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) questioned Iwry on the legality of the administration’s decision, asking further if the same rationale would apply if the administration concluded that a delay of the individual mandate would be appropriate. Iwry responded that the department has not undertaken such analysis, but did not speak to Johnson’s questions. Watch the exchange here.

Finally, Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) lamented that the administration has “cater[ed] to big business, but not to hard working taxpayers and small businesspeople that are fighting every single day against this law.” Watch her remarks here.

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