House Democrats, Treasury Officials Defend ACA Provision Delay
On Wednesday, House Democrats and Department of Treasury officials defended the Obama administration's decision to delay for one year the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate, the New York Times reports.
Officials Comments on Employer Mandate Delay
During a Ways and Means subcommittee hearing at which administration officials said they were unprepared to testify, House Democrats stepped in to defend the decision. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) said, "I don't like the delay any more than anybody else. But I would suggest that it's better to do the delay and get this right than not to do the delay and get it wrong" (Pear, New York Times, 7/10).
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said the "irony of [Republicans] objecting to the delay of a program [they have] been trying to stop is, no doubt, lost" on members of the subcommittee (Howell, Washington Times, 7/10).
Separately, White House press secretary Jay Carney during a press briefing said that Republicans are being "willfully ignorant about past precedent" if they "suggest that there's anything unusual about the delaying of a deadline in the implementation of a complex and comprehensive law" (Epstein, "Politico 44," Politico, 7/10).
Meanwhile, treasury officials maintain that the delay constitutes "transition relief" for businesses and that it has a "longstanding administrative authority" to push back the employer mandate, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur in a letter to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) wrote that the department "recognize[s] that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health coverage to their workers, and we want to make sure that businesses are able to comply with the reporting requirements effectively and efficiently" (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/10).
Tavenner Speaks Out on ACA
Addressing an IRS final rule issued last week stating that state exchanges will not have to verify an applicant's income or access to qualifying work-based coverage, Tavenner wrote that the exchanges "will always check the income information submitted by individuals against electronic income data sources such as tax filings, Social Security and current wage information" (Block, Modern Healthcare, 7/10).
In addition, she noted that "[i]ndividuals seeking to purchase insurance in the marketplace must attest, under penalty of perjury, that they are not filing false information."
Tavenner added, "IRS will reconcile advance payments of the premium tax credit when consumers file their annual tax returns at the end of the year, and it will recoup overpayments." Federal officials also plan to conduct random samples to verify work-based coverage offerings, she said (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 7/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.