Top Administration Health Official Has Only Heard "Isolated Incidents" of Impact of Employer Mandate

Press Release

By:  Morgan Griffith Steve Scalise Tim Murphy Fred Upton Marsha Blackburn
Date: Aug. 1, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

The House Energy and Commerce Committee today held a hearing with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to secure answers regarding the status of the health care law's implementation. Committee members relayed the many concerns they have heard from families, businesses, and health care providers in their districts to Administrator Tavenner, who eventually admitted to hearing only "isolated incidents" of the law's burdens. Administrator Tavenner welcomed members to provide her contact information for constituents' complaints about the law.

The administration's sudden and unilateral delay of the employer mandate raised new concerns regarding the administration's ability to implement this law on the current schedule. With just 60 days remaining until the health care law's exchanges are scheduled to be operational, questions continue to outnumber answers about the future and function of the law. Just today, the Ohio Insurance Department announced individuals can expect a 41 percent premium increase as a result of the president's health care law.

"It is the uncertainty of the law that most concerns me. Uncertainty about how much individual's health insurance costs are going up to comply with the law's mandates and taxes. Uncertainty about what new and additional expenses employers must take on as a result of the law. And business uncertainty for the numerous medical device companies that call Tennessee home due to the medical device tax," said full committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

"The president made a lot of promises to the American people both before and after the law's passage -- and the promises to make health care more affordable and more accessible have fallen woefully short. This hearing provided an opportunity to further check on the status of those promises," said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) highlighted a story of an individual in his district who is being moved to part-time employment because of the health care law. Administrator Tavenner told Murphy, "We're not seeing folks changing their hours -- yes we hear anecdotal stories as wellÂ…"

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) echoed Murphy's comments. Tavenner then admitted, "I do hear isolated incidents of individuals trying to cut back hours - I don't hear so much about reducing workforce." Scalise asked, "Do you really think that's isolated? I hear it every day and it's across the board -- large employers, small employers, medium sized employers that are all saying the same thing. Rarely do you get the competitors, people that compete down the street from each other saying the exact same thing about being forced to reduce their workforce. They don't want to do this."

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) also noted a Washington Post article reporting that "as many as 10,000 Commonwealth of Virginia employees are having their hours cut. You wouldn't consider the Commonwealth of Virginia as an isolated incident, would you?" Administrator Tavenner agreed that this was one such "isolated