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DesJarlais Opening Statement at Oversight Committee Hearing on ObamaCare's New Rules and Taxes

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Published on Aug 2, 2012

Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings, I appreciate you holding today's hearing to further examine how the Internal Revenue Service has been implementing provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

One of our chief responsibilities on this committee is to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being utilized both efficiently and in accordance with the law.

Unfortunately, it is has become undeniably evident that the Affordable Care Act falls short on both of these principles.

Just last week, this Committee held a hearing on a new Health and Human Services "demonstration" project that the Obama administration is paying for by cutting 8 billion dollars from Medicare Advantage. These are funds that would normally be used for patient care. Two members from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office stated that this "demonstration project was unprecedented, flawed from its inception and will ultimately demonstrate nothing". Further, there was strong evidence to suggest that the sole purpose of this project was nothing more than an attempt by the administration to hide new costs that Obamacare imposes on seniors until after the election. I fail to see how this is an efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

These are the sort of examples that we've come to expect from this haphazardly passed bill authored by individuals who told the American people that they would have to pass it in order to for us to find out what is in it.

Well today I want to focus on what is not in it.

We have now discovered that when the Democrats were drafting ObamaCare they left out important language relating to federally run insurance exchanges.

Democrats wrongly assumed that the states would rush to set up exchanges once the bill was signed into law. But a majority of them still have yet to do so.

Section 1321 of the bill gives authority to the federal government to set up exchanges in states that fail to do so on their own, however the law only gives state run exchanges the ability to issue "premium assistance" or tax credits. Nowhere does the bill grant this authority to federally run exchanges.

The Obama administration and proponents of this rule have stated that this was a simple drafting error. I don't see how they can possibly make this claim when Democrats had ample opportunity throughout the reconciliation process where they specifically extended tax credits to exchanges created by US territories, yet left federal exchanges alone. This leads me to believe that this was in fact a deliberate and premeditated action on the part of Democrats' as a way to incentivize states to set up exchanges.

Either way, there is no doubt that the language is missing.

In order to fix this glaring problem the Internal Revenue Service circumvented Congress's legislative authority by issuing a rule allowing premium assistance subsidies to be offered through federal exchanges.

Back in November of 2011, my colleague and fellow Tennessee physician Phil Roe and I sent a letter to the IRS Commissioner asking what authority his agency had to unilaterally alter the Affordable Care Act and what specifically within the bill gave them the authority to bypass Congress in promulgating this rule. The response we received from the IRS cited no specific section or language justifying their actions.

On June 18th, I introduced H. J. Res. 112 which would nullify this rule under the Congressional Review Act. I firmly believe the actions by the IRS set a dangerous precedent that flies in the face of our constitutional separation of powers. I'm pleased to announce that Senator Ron Johnson has recently introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Ultimately, my bill and this issue are not about the merits of the President's Healthcare law, but on how the IRS has overstepped the authority it was given as result of the Affordable Care Act. While my colleagues on the other side may not share my views regarding the detrimental effects that ObamaCare will have on our country, surely they agree that the framers of our constitution were clear in giving Congress sole legislative authority. Just because Democrat's hastily drafted their health care law due to electoral politics, it doesn't mean they can now throw the separation of powers out the window.

I look forward to hearing the testimony presented before us today as well as have the opportunity to question our witnesses on these very important issues.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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