Yesterday the Health and Oversight Subcommittees on House Committee on Ways and Means conducted a hearing surrounding tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA) convened the joint hearing to discuss the income verification system used to determine individuals’ eligibility for tax credits to purchase insurance, and to address reports of incorrect tax credit payments being issued and later reclaimed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The panel of witnesses included experts in health and tax policy including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum and Katie Mahoney, Executive Director of Health Policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Much like the sentiment towards the law itself, the views expressed in the joint hearing were split among partisan lines. In opening remarks, Chairman Brady and Chairman Boustany expressed deep concern with the lack of accountability and efficiency with the current income verification system and eligibility requirements for tax credits. Chairman Brady noted that, “Today, eight months after the start of open enrollment and well over a month after the extended open enrollment ended, the income and eligibility verification system is not completed. And the burden and the cost of that failure will fall on the American people. That is simply unfair and unacceptable.” Without proper income verification, individuals in some cases are receiving incorrect tax credits, which they are then required to repay months later when filing tax returns. In order for the verification system to function correctly, massive amounts of data is required to be submitted by employers. However, due to delays in the employer mandate, the regulations around employer reporting requirements have also been delayed. During her testimony, Katie Mahoney from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce acknowledged that it is absolutely necessary for more flexibility for employers to come into compliance with the regulations of the ACA.
The International Franchise Association has submitted comments regarding employer reporting requirements to the IRS and Department of the Treasury as part of a coalition striving to increase flexibility for employers. Accurate employer reporting is crucial to the success of other parts of the ACA, but it must be implemented responsibly and without disrupting employers who have already seen large cost increases because of the employer mandate to provide health insurance to employees. In addition to pushing for changes to the definition of full-time employee, the IFA will continue to protect franchise business owner’s interests from the potentially harmful effects of the ACA requirements.