Obamacare is becoming more “unfair, unworkable and untenable” and is just not ready for implementation, according to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.
That was his assessment as his committee held a hearing Thursday on the “Status of the Affordable Care Act Implementation.”
Obamacare is under assault on a growing number of fronts with conservative senators trying to defund the law and a CBS poll showing 54 percent of the public now disapproving of the Affordable Care Act.
A new front opened on Capitol Hill on Thursday as the IRS chief faced tough questioning about whether the agency is ready to implement the mammoth law.
Republicans want to know how the IRS will accomplish the daunting task of implementing the thousands of pages comprising Obamacare while it is enduring the worst scandal in its history, which is still unraveling.
Camp says the revelation that the IRS targeted conservatives means the agency should not be trusted with Americans’ health care information.
“As if Americans didn’t have enough reason 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 healthcare law,” he insisted.
“In fact, it is likely that Americans will be at even greater risk of having their identity stolen or private taxpayer information leaked as result of the law,” Camp added.
The committee heard testimony from acting IRS chief Daniel Wuerfel and government Medicare specialist Gary Cohen.
“There are all kinds of safeguards and procedures that we put in place when we share taxpayer information outside of the IRS,” Wuerfel claimed in response to Camp’s concerns.
He insisted the IRS will collect only information on whether applicants qualify for tax credits, not personal medical information.
Given the IRS scrutiny of Americans with conservative politics, Republicans were skeptical on that count and questioned the viability of Obamacare, even if that proves to be true.
The most fiery exchanges occurred as Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., zeroed in on what he sees as a potentially huge problem with implementing the law caused by the Obama administration’s recent decision to delay the employer mandate provision for one year, while keeping the individual mandate still on course to take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
Ryan pointed out employers will not be able to provide information to the IRS about which employees are eligible to get health insurance subsidies.
He suggested an untold number of employees would likely apply for, and receive, subsidies for which they are not eligible, not because they are trying to commit fraud but simply because they will be confused.
Ryan said, by law, the IRS would then be forced to recoup that money with tax bills once the errors are discovered, causing many people to get hit with big tax bills the next year.
“I don’t think you understand the law you are in charge of executing and enforcing,” Ryan told Wuerful.
Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., said the hearing amounted to the documentation of the “train wreck” Obamacare has become.
He noted the front page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution declared insurance options are shrinking, and areas of his state will have only one insurer offering coverage.
That, Price exclaimed, was not an insurance option but a demand or a dictate.
President Obama had promised Americans they would be able to keep their doctors and their premiums would go down.
In his opening statement, Camp contradicted those assertions, saying families and individuals have three pressing questions about Obamacare:
- “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?”
Camp also listed the reasons he doubts previous testimony from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that Obamacare “was on track” to meet the Oct. 1 deadline.
- Two reports from the Government Accountability Office raising serious questions about whether federally run healthcare exchanges will be up and running by the deadline.
- The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s statement it will be difficult to have the exchanges completed by the deadline, and as a result Americans will see significant delays and errors.
- The administration gave employers relief from the mandate but did not give the same break to hardworking Americans.
- The HHS announcement it would rely on a self-verification system to determine who gets subsidies.
- A report stating $12 billion will be added to the deficit due to the delay of the employer mandate and increase federal spending by $3 billion.
“Is it fair that businesses — big businesses — are off the hook while the average taxpayer is going to be required to buy federally defined acceptable coverage through the individual mandate?” Camp asked the IRS chief.
“The employers and the business community reached out, indicated a need for more time, and there was a balancing decision made that we should provide them that more time,” Wuerful replied.
On Friday, House Republicans will try to make sure the tax-collection agency does not have the funds to implement Obamacare.
The House is expected to vote on the Keep the IRS Off Your Healthcare Act, which was introduced after the IRS scandal broke in May.
Before delivering his questions, Ryan took a moment to address Obama’s recent references to what he called Republicans’ obsession with “phony scandals.”
Ryan said the IRS scandal is not a phony scandal. It’s a serious matter, he said, when the tax agency targets people for their political views.
On local radio in the nation’s capital this morning, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., also addressed Obama’s remarks, saying he had spoken with the families of some of the four Americans who died in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic annex in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.
Wolf said the relatives did not consider the scandal phony.