Top House Republicans laid out an aggressive schedule of hearings and investigations Thursday to propel their effort to replace President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
The GOP hopes to tackle several issues, including overhauling the nation’s medical liability system, investigating how the Obama administration has granted waivers from the health care law’s requirements and proposing legislation that would allow people to buy health insurance across state lines.
“We saw in November the American people flat-out rejected a Congress that jams through sweeping legislation without engaging the American people,” Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) said at a news conference Thursday with other House chairmen. “We’re starting on a process to engage our colleagues in Congress and the American people as we look at genuine, meaningful health care reform.”
Kline’s panel will hold a series of hearings starting in February to examine the health care law’s effect on the economy and job creation, Kline said. He particularly wants to study whether an insurance mandate on employers discourages small businesses from hiring new workers. Kline also wants to find ways to expand coverage in wellness programs and to allow small businesses to pool together on insurance to save money.
Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) joined Kline at the news conference. They said they are focused on ensuring oversight of the health care law while offering small bills to alter it.
The powerful Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing this month to examine the effect that taxes, mandates and new regulation have had on families, individuals and small businesses, Camp said. In particular, Camp said that the discussion would be focused on an unpopular tax reporting provision known as the 1099 provision, the employer mandate and Medicare.
The chairmen defended their decision to move forward on health care instead of solely focusing on jobs-related legislation.
“Just because we’re going to be looking at the impact of this health care law on a lot of things including jobs, it doesn’t mean the committees won’t be actively engaged in other aspects of our responsibility,” Kline said. “We don’t have to limit ourselves to one subject at a time.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.