Jeff Flake - U.S. Senator ~ Arizona

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Washington, D.C. – United States Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), today delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the need to delay the implementation of Obamacare. Earlier this week, Sen. Flake introduced S. 1490, which would delay for one year all of Obamacare’s provisions going into effect on Jan. 1, 2014 or later, including, among others, the individual and employer mandates of Obamacare, as well as all taxes associated with the law. Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tim Scott (R-SC) Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) are cosponsors of the bill. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the House version.

Sen. Flake is also a cosponsor of an amendment to the energy efficiency legislation currently being considered on the Senate floor that would delay the individual and employer mandates for one year. This amendment is being offered by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and is authored by Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN).

 “I come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to do everything we can to ensure that Obamacare is delayed, like the gentleman from Indiana, who just spoke, said – we know that this law is not ready for prime time. The president has delayed certain parts of it, a number of parts of it. The employer mandate has been delayed. If we are going to delay the employer mandate, it makes sense to delay the individual mandate as well.

“I’ve introduced S. 1490. This would delay by one year all provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are supposed to take effect on January 1, 2014 or later.

“In addition, it would suspend all taxes – including those on medical devices – associated with the law for one year.

“I am also a cosponsor of the legislation introduced by Sen. Coats, who just spoke, and the minority leader has offered as an amendment to the energy efficiency legislation that’s on the floor now. It would delay the individual and employer mandates for a year.

“Like my colleagues, I have opposed Obamacare from the beginning, I have voted against this legislation time and time again – I think the count is 37 times in the House – to repeal it. Obviously I did not support it in the first place.  

“Even this law’s strongest advocates can agree that there are major issues with its implementation under the current timeline, and that a positive immediate next step for all Americans would be to delay this harmful law.

“January 1, 2014 marks the roll-out of some of the most fundamental parts of the law. CBO estimates that nearly 7 million people will join the individual exchanges that are scheduled to open for the enrollment period in less than three weeks from now, and all of our constituents will feel the pain if the law isn’t ready at the onset.

“As I mentioned, even the president has conceded that the health care law is not ready by issuing a combination of waivers and delays for certain parts of the law. He did it for the employer mandate a while ago. If we do it for the employer mandate, as I said, it would make sense to do it for the individual mandate as well.

“Because of this delay, starting in 2014, many individuals will be using the honor system to verify their income and whether they have access to affordable employer-provided health coverage.

“Without the appropriate verification system in place, individuals will have an incentive to report a lower income to receive more in subsidies than they qualify for. This will ultimately raise the cost for everyone else.

“On the individual exchanges: Just two weeks ago, HHS delayed the signing of final agreements for insurance plans that are going to be sold on the exchanges starting October 1. 

“This comes on top of a report issued by GAO this past June cautioning that the health care law could miss the October 1 open enrollment date because of missed deadlines and delays in several areas.

“The administration has also delayed the cap on out-of-pocket expenses that was intended to go into effect in 2014.

“If this weren’t enough, there are also privacy and fraud concerns.

“There is great apprehension over the new federal ‘navigators,’ who are hired by the federal government to help individuals weed through the new paperwork and enrollment guidelines of the Affordable Care Act.

“These navigators receive no anti-fraud training, and the administration recently announced that training for these individuals would be reduced from 30 to 20 hours.

“Further, these individuals will have access to consumers’ private and personal data without having any minimum eligibility criteria or background checks.

“I could continue to list the pitfalls that this law has already faced, but the point is clear: This law is not ready for prime time.

“Implementing this law before it’s ready will only force taxpayers into a system riddled with potential fraud, certain gridlock and increased costs for all.

“As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to our constituents. That if this law isn’t ready, we need to delay it for everyone.

“That’s why I urge my colleagues to support the minority leader’s amendment and any other legislative vehicle to grant taxpayers a year’s delay for the Affordable Care Act to ensure the least-harmful path forward.

“Simply put, I believe a total delay of Obamacare is the fairest way and most realistic plan to prevent the law from wreaking havoc on all Americans.”