PALLONE. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
The bill before us today is nothing more than another page out of the Republican playbook to delay, derail, and otherwise repeal the Affordable Care Act. Rather than a productive, bipartisan effort to ensure successful implementation, Republicans will instead waste more precious floor time to take their 41st vote that undermines and repeals the Affordable Care Act.
H.R. 2775 is based on a flawed premise that HHS does not have the verifications in place to ensure that families who are getting financial help are eligible for that help.
But my Republican friends, that's simply not true, and your bill will do nothing but prevent millions of hardworking American families from gaining Affordable Care Act coverage.
First and foremost, this bill is totally unnecessary. HHS already has stated in regulations that they will check and verify income on 100 percent of the applications. If someone receives payments that they determine aren't substantiated, those payments will have to be paid back--100 percent verified and reconciled.
Here is how it works. To get subsidies to make their health insurance affordable, hardworking Americans and families will submit their projected annual household income through the marketplaces. The data will then be checked against IRS data, Social Security data, and current wage information. If there is an inconsistency, the marketplaces will require additional documentation from applicants.
In addition, marketplaces will check employer coverage information from the applicant and their employer against data from a number of employer data sources approved by HHS to verify eligibility for the subsidies. If applicant information and other data do not match, the marketplaces will ask for further supporting documentation.
And lastly, all payments of premium tax credits are reconciled by IRS the following year. The income data submitted to the marketplaces are reconciled against the actual wages and health-covered information on the individual's income tax return. If there is an inconsistency, the applicant pays back the excess.
Let me repeat that part, that last part, Madam Speaker, because it is the most critical. Even after HHS has verified wage information on each individual situation that arises before tax credits are sent out, the income information will still be doublechecked again against actual wages on the individual's income tax return the following year. So if there is an inconsistency, the applicant pays back the excess. There is, again, 100 percent income verification and reconciliation on the back end.
Madam Speaker, both CBO and JCT, the Joint Committee on Taxation, confirmed this, stating that the program HHS has in place satisfies the certification requirements under section 1411 of the law--proving, again, that this bill is simply irrelevant.
But, of course, in light of this report, our Republicans at the twelfth hour have hastily amended the bill. The new language will basically ask the IG of HHS to formally certify these verification systems, which does nothing but delay the start of the law and deny millions of hardworking Americans from getting the tax credits they're clearly eligible for.
I maintained in Rules last night, and I'll maintain again, this is not the responsibility of the inspector general. The inspector general doesn't do this. They probably can't do this.
The IG's office has confirmed these implications by stating that this new language places unworkable requirements on their office and that it has no resources to perform this and that it is outside of its traditional role. The Republicans know very well all of this, and that's the exact reason they made this change. It's simply a delay tactic.
Again, the IG won't be able to do this. This is not its traditional role. So the only thing that happens here, Madam Speaker, is that this is a legislation which, of course, will never pass; but if it did pass and got signed by the President, which would never happen, it would simply delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and that's what the Republicans want. Repeal, delay, defund--this is what they're all about. It's the 41st vote, again, to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Madam Speaker, we are 20 days away from October 1, when millions of uninsured Americans will finally get access to quality, affordable health care. No longer will hardworking families worry about getting sick or injured or losing coverage because of the loss of a job, because the Affordable Care Act gives health security and peace of mind. For those hardworking families who need additional tools to help them afford their health coverage, the ACA will help make coverage a reality.
So despite the delay tactics in this bill and the millions of hours and dollars spent to derail the ACA, the law is moving forward. Organizations across this country, including labor, small businesses, employers, health care providers, advocates, religious leaders, and others, will continue to focus on helping uninsured Americans gain access to health care.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill. It is, again, an unnecessary delay; but I at least am optimistic in knowing that the ACA will move forward and that the Republicans will not have success.
I reserve the balance of my time.