Republicans tackle Obamacare as the clock ticks down
September 14th, 2013
07:47 AM ET
7 months ago

Republicans tackle Obamacare as the clock ticks down

(CNN) - With less than a month before open enrollment begins for Obamacare, Republicans again went after the president's signature health care law in their weekly address on Saturday.

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, highlighted her bill, "No Subsidies Without Verification Act," which was passed by the House this week, -one of dozens of attempts by the GOP-controlled House to chisel away at the health care law.

The bill, however, has little chance of going anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"This legislation stops the government from issuing health care subsidies until it has a system in place to prevent fraud. It's that simple," said Black, a registered nurse for 40 years.

What is she referring to?

Obamacare subsidies are essentially tax credits that help free up money for individuals to purchase health insurance. The lower a person's salary, the higher their subsidy will be.

Opponents of the health care law are frustrated by a rule change announced by the administration this summer. The new rule says that state insurance exchanges can relax how they verify the income of people who apply for the subsidies.

As CNNMoney's Jeanne Sahadi explains it, exchanges must still check the applicant's income against a federal database, which will include information from his or her federal tax returns and a record of Social Security benefits.

The exchanges will be looking for disparities between what the applicant says and what's in the database.

If it looks like someone is understating his or her income by more than 10%, and the exchange doesn't have other sources to quickly check against, the exchange may choose to rely on what the applicant says.

To prevent fraud, the IRS will check the person's actual income when he or she files their tax return that next April. Anyone who might get a bigger subsidy than they're eligible for will have to pay back the difference to the IRS.

But Black argued the Obama administration is relying on "the honor system" rather than a true verification system.

"You heard that right: instead of exercising common sense and accountability, the administration is willing to just give away your tax dollars – no questions asked," she said.

Read her full comments below:

Hi, I'm Diane Black, and I represent Tennessee's Sixth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. What an honor it is to be speaking with you.

Protecting taxpayer dollars is one of Washington's most important responsibilities. Your money should be spent wisely or not at all. And everything we do to stop waste and fix broken government removes obstacles to creating jobs and building a stronger economy.

This week, the House took on a hot spot for fraud and abuse in the president's health care law by passing a bill I authored called the No Subsidies Without Verification Act. This legislation stops the government from issuing health care subsidies until it has a system in place to prevent fraud. It's that simple.

Now, you'd be right to ask, why isn't this the case already? Well, in an attempt to prop up its struggling health care law, the Obama administration decided they'd hand out subsidies without verifying who's eligible. They just want to rely on the honor system. You heard that right: instead of exercising common sense and accountability, the administration is willing to just give away your tax dollars – no questions asked.

Not only is that unfair to hardworking taxpayers like you, it opens the door a mile wide to fraud and abuse. According to one independent estimate, some $250 billion in bad payments could be doled out over the next decade.

This is nonsense. And members of both parties agree. Democrats on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee have also come out for requiring verification. Now we need the full Democratic-led Senate to act.

This is just the latest in a string of bipartisan efforts to repeal and protect Americans from the president's health care law. The House has also acted in bipartisan fashion to give individuals and families the same delay from the law's mandates that big businesses have received. The president himself has signed seven bills that dismantle parts of the law.

It's important work, and like many of you, this issue affects me personally. I've been a registered nurse for more than 40 years now, and I can tell you the things patients and their families count on – their doctors, their plans, the cost of their care – all of this comes under siege in the president's health care law. It won't just fail to keep its promises; it will make things much worse. You don't have to take my word for it: every day we're seeing new reports of higher costs, less access, and fewer jobs.

Together, we can stop this 'train wreck' and put the focus back on patient-centered solutions. Together, we can build a stronger economy that rewards hard work and people who do the right thing.

Again, it has been my honor to address you on behalf of my colleagues. Thank you for listening.


Filed under: Health care • President Obama • Republicans
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    @Sandy C: "STOP waisting time w/ the posturing garbage! Instead, propose an alternative law that's better! I don't remember the GOP ever doing that??"

    All the GOP is posturing garbage. Regarding an alternative to Obamacare, the GOP came up with the individual mandate idea in the first place (just google Heritage Foundation healthcare).

    *sigh* you'd think repub voters would get tired of being manipulated to act against their own self-interest. Apparently, there's no shortage of stupid in their ranks.

    September 14, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    @HenryMiller: "Ms Black doesn't get it—the objective is to hook as many people as possible as fast as possible on yet another welfare scheme, law and common sense be damned."

    How is asking people (in the words of Newt Gingrich) to have "skin in the game" regarding their healthcare "another welfare scheme"?

    Follow-up question: Why are you so lazy that you don't do any research about Obamacare yourself, but instead swallow hook, line and sinker all the BS the GOP keeps throwing at you?

    September 14, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Just because Nurse Ratchett doesn't like Obamacare doesn't mean we should listen to her.

    September 14, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    I suggest folks go to the votesmart (org) website to check out Rep. Black's voting record.

    Among other things, Black claims that Obamacare gives taxpayer money to abortion providers. (Lie: Obamacare states that Plans offering coverage for abortion, however, may not use federal funds to pay for it and must collect a separate premium from enrollees.)

    Regarding women: She voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

    Black claims that Obamacare assaults religious freedom by claiming that Obamacare "forces" employers to provide or facilitate coverage for abortion and contraceptive services. (I think she should take a close look at her own insurance coverage – most plans currently provide for these services, and NONE "force" people to use them).

    She voted against federal funding of NPR but in favor of using federal funds to sponsor NASCAR.

    Anyway, grain of salt, folks, when you listen to Nurse Ratchet speak.

    September 14, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. Woman In California

    Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, highlighted her bill, "No Subsidies Without Verification Act," which was passed by the House this week, -one of dozens of attempts by the GOP-controlled House to chisel away at the health care law.

    The bill, however, has little chance of going anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
    -
    And that's ALL you need to know. The bill is going nowhere. Nowhere but the recycling binds of history as yet another failure by this Congress to repeal what is now law (you know the same "law" they hide behind when they're in trouble). In need of red meat for their ignorant base to chew on, they keep throwing out Obamacare but the FACT is, Obamacare is here to stay so they might get used to it.

    September 14, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. Tom

    I don't believe I ever heard the term "jobs bill" until this current administration. It's so laughable to hear the liberals on here talk about some magic bill that will just create jobs if the govt snaps its fingers. So sad that so many Americans today have such reliance and belief in the govt rather than their fellow American.

    September 14, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. David

    The Repubs are wasting their time, they will never sway one vote in an election as all know that Obamacare was the republican plan and they are just trying to play politics.

    September 14, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. Bill

    No wonder the GOP can not win elections at the national level. Keep up your ridiculousness, GOP'ers, it will make it easier for the democrats in 2014.

    September 14, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the Affordable Healthcare Act isn't. Private heathcare premiums will increase at least 40%. The unfunded liability in years to come has been estamated at $70 trillion. Your Affordable Heathcare premiums will be about $177/mo. , then will escalate to about $550/mo. Think I'm joking. I'm not rich. I'm a blue collar Republican. I don't want my Healthcare premiums increasing. I don't care what side of the aisle your on, but this IS one bill that needs defunded.

    September 14, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Don't think the poor won't suffer from this healthcare act.

    September 14, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. Name Uche Agonsi

    What an unhallowed way to present a hollowed proposal. After 40years as a nurse, Diane could not suggest any accounting method or mechanism to help instal safety net against abuses in the operation of the ACA....... Just like the economy she desired fixed without calling for any solution. Its simply cases where wishes are expected to be horses.

    September 14, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. Winston Smith

    Have any person or persons from the republican party come up with any ideas to share concerning healthcare? Or are they just against anything that is put forth be the opposing party? And, if they are, are they willing to let the entire country suffer a complete shutdown, to show their ignorance? Signed: Curious.

    September 14, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. Tony

    jpmichigan, that is just a conservative myth. There is no exemption from Obamacare for the president, members of Congress and their staff.

    September 14, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Amazing

    All you hear from the GOP is no, no, and no! What ideas have they offered to get healthcare for the uninsured? They can't even fix the USPS which can't buy vans! Yes, the unions contributed to the problem but a nothing Congress is just as responsible!

    September 14, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. HenryMiller

    "The Republicans have no problems with the government probing into peoples lives as long as they are poor"

    As long as the so-called "poor" keep whining for more handouts, the taxpayers paying for those handouts have every right to make sure the losers aren't just ripping off the system.

    September 14, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    Stop wasting taxpayer money!!!!!! Obamacare is NOT going anywhere. Get over it.
    Gawd! If you we're children you would spend your time locked in your room.

    September 14, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  17. Hal

    I would like to know what the AFL-CIO has to say about this.

    September 14, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  18. rs

    Every metric used says that without the ACA, the budget deficits grow, and the debt increases, insurance and medical costs go up- and 35 million Americans are denied health care. Really GOP? Think you can sell that to sane people? You want to balloon the deficits again, and kill people? Good Luck with that sickos.

    September 14, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  19. rs

    the objective is to hook as many people as possible as fast as possible on yet another welfare scheme, law and common sense be damned.
    _____________
    How is making people responsible by buying health care insurance a "welfare scheme"? This was a Republican plan (before they lost their collective minds). You people are clueless rubes if you really believe the nonsense posted above.

    September 14, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  20. rs

    Just another way for Obama to redistribute the wealth and ensure that his progressive party continues to get votes.
    ________________
    More fact-less drivel by the Right.

    September 14, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  21. Ron L

    Instead of focusing on Obamacare, let's focus on what I call the
    WHATS AMERICA GOING TO DO LIST...
    1) What is America going to do about the minimum wage that is 20% lower than the minimum wage of 30 years ago?
    2) What is America going to do about college tuition that is rising 7 to 10% a year when inflation is rising only 2%?
    3) What is America going to do about the crumbling infrastructure that is 50 to 100 years old?
    4) What is America going to do about the unreasonable cost of health care services?
    5) What is America going to do about the CEO of a company making $40 million a year when it's worker make $8.00
    an hour and have difficulty in being scheduled 40 hours a week?
    6) What is America going to do about that same CEO having so many loop holes in the tax code that he pays a lower
    percentage of taxes than an American making $60,000 a year?
    7) What is America going to do about the influx of money that is skewing our political process?
    8) What is America going to do the help the so called AMERICAN DREAM become available for most of us, like it was
    25 years ago, instead of just a very, very, few like today?
    I am 58 years old and our country is in REAL TROUBLE because the very things that made us "exceptional" are dissipating into nothingness. Our NEWS MEDIA is failing us because they are more interested in what a politician "thinks or says" instead of what they "accomplish". It is heartbreaking because so few of us realize it is happening.
    In closing I would like to say I have been in a union and I have had to fight with unions when I was in management. Here are the facts, as union membership went down two things happened: average American wages went flat and CEO pay went up 10 to 20% per year. There is strength in numbers and it is the ONLY THING large corporations respect and FEAR!!!

    September 14, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  22. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Why has she refused to produce her long form birth certificate for public review? What is she hiding???

    September 14, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  23. Lib from the 60's

    I haven't read Rep. Black's bill, but I suspect it fails to address the fraud in the "subsidies" given to purveyors of the military industrial complex.

    September 14, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  24. Cephus

    Healthcare is a right for all! It's even moronic to demonize it because it saves lives. Obama care is not bad but it can be improved for the better. When will we stop obstructing the best ideas for political points?

    September 15, 2013 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  25. J.V.Hodgson

    If she has a point it is simple!
    Stop talking repeal but amendment improvement of PPACA for the national good.
    and put those to a non whipped non partisan vote in the house and senate.
    If they pass then in theory we all benefit and fraud is reduced.
    please remember fraud = breaking the law as it is written, that possibility itself does not invalidate the law.
    Regards,
    Hodgson

    September 15, 2013 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
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