House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing concern regarding the draft health care exchange application materials recently posted on HHS' website. The Associated Press reported, "Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes." The AP also reported that the draft application for a three-person family totals 15 pages and at least three federal agencies including the IRS will be part of the application process.
The members wrote, "These documents are troubling for several reasons. First the applications request information not easily available to most Americans, including information on their employers' health plans that most employees would have difficulty obtaining. For example, it is unlikely most Americans would be able to determine which of their employer health plans meet the "minimal value standard' as defined by PPACA."
The application also acknowledges that, contrary to President Obama's repeated promises, some Americans will not be able to keep their current health care plan. The letter continues, "the HHS application asks the applicants to check a box if their job "will no longer offer health coverage next year.' As you are aware, during the debate over PPACA supporters of the law routinely promised Americans that if they liked their current coverage, they would be able to keep it. By asking applicants to state whether their employers will no longer offer health coverage, HHS seems to acknowledge that the PPACA will incentivize employers to discontinue providing health care plans."
The letter was signed by Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), Heath Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Vice Chairman of the Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX).
The members requested HHS provide a briefing and additional information on HHS' process for reviewing applications by March 29, 2013.
The text of the full letter is available in the PDF below: