Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you all coming to Kentucky today to discuss Obamacare and the impact it's having on the economy and employers, particularly in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Throughout August and the beginning of September, I am hosting 21 town hall meetings -- one in every county in the Second District. Obamacare continues to be a top issue at each meeting, with Kentuckians wondering how it will impact them, their employees, their jobs, and their health care coverage.
Unfortunately, we don't have all the answers. The law that was famously "passed so we could find out what's in it" has yet to calm the fears of ordinary citizens. Will their employer reduce their hours so they no longer trigger the requirement for health insurance? Will they be able to stay on their current health insurance plan? Will their premiums be affordable or will they have to spend more for essentially the same coverage? Will employers be able to continue to afford to provide insurance for their workers? Will they be able to hire the few extra workers they need or will that cause them to trigger the employer mandate?
There is no shortage of red flags when it comes to the train wreck known as Obamacare. The one-size-fits-all law is proving to be disastrous for consumers, employers and health care providers alike. In July, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office warned that because government officials have missed multiple key deadlines to set up the new health insurance exchanges, there is serious concern that the exchanges will not be ready in October, as scheduled.
The IT data security testing necessary to open the exchanges was recently pushed back until September 30th -- the day before the exchanges are expected to go live. This is after multiple missed deadlines and leaving them with no buffer to correct any problems, risking possible security lapses.
Employers and families across Kentucky have expressed serious concerns about meeting the requirements of the law and wondering if they will lose their coverage, be forced to choose different providers, or be saddled with enormous new costs. Given the Administration's move to delay only the employer mandate, families and small business owners are left with even more uncertainty.
Small businesses, the backbone of our economy, are likely to be hardest hit. Some local insurers say the law could put them out of business. One restaurant owner says it will be a challenge for the whole industry and many will be forced to lay off employees. Others simply say it will be extremely difficult to insure all of their existing employees. With the lack of information and transparency from the Administration, business leaders don't even know what types of insurance programs they might be able to offer or if they will be forced to alter the shape of their workforce in order for their business to stay afloat.
Given the lack of information and tools available for implementation, it is evident that not only is this law not the solution to our nation's health care problems, but it is not ready for implementation. I hope that today's field hearing will offer us an opportunity to explore these concerns further and hear directly from employers about how the law is impacting them.