Oversight Committee sends letter to Kathleen Sebelius concerning "small business mandates"

By Vanessa De La Rosa


Chairmen of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are apparently wary of Obamacare’s recent health care mandates for small businesses. The mandates require businesses with 50 employees or fewer to provide health insurance coverage through state exchange programs.

Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced this week that he and Subcommittee Chairmen James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have written and sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius inquiring about the mandates and seeking documentation of the HHS’s oversight of PPACA implementation.

Vermont and the District of Columbia have both passed these “small business mandates.” Issa, Lankford and Jordan cite their concern “that these proposals will result in less consumer choice and higher costs for many businesses and individuals” and that the plans by Vermont and D.C. “violate the principle of voluntary participation in Exchanges that was codified in PPACA and reaffirmed in your guidance when you wrote that ‘participation in a SHOP is strictly voluntary for small employers.’”

D.C. Council member and Chairman of the Committee on Health David Catania argues that “by merging the two markets [small business and individual], the exchange will have sufficient volume and power of aggregation, which will decrease insurance costs for individuals.”

Issa, Lankford and Jordan note in their letter to Sebelius that over 150 small businesses and organizations in D.C. wrote to the Chair of the D.C. Exchange Executive Board opposing the small business mandate, saying they “do not want to be forced to buy the standardized, cookie-cutter coverage that would be offered through a government-run exchange.”

The Oversight Committee chairmen urge Sebelius to "ensure that all exchanges comply with the provisions in PPACA that ensure that individuals and employers have the freedom to enter into contracts outside of a regulated government-created bureaucracy."

They add, “As HHS Secretary, you are responsible for ensuring that states implement Obamacare in accordance with the provisions of the law … The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at ‘any time’ investigate ‘any matter’ as set for in House Rule X.”

You can read the full letter here.