Earlier, Tavenner said she has seen the letter and has had “ongoing meetings” with labor union representatives.
Tavenner also used her time to allay any fears that the Obama administration's recent decision to postpone for one year the law's employer mandate will thwart the law's rollout. Experts have said the delay likely will have only a modest impact on the number of people insured under the law. “The decision was to try to help and not increase regulatory burden,” Tavenner said, “And it has no impact on our implementation.”
Meanwhile, some lawmakers expressed surprise that Tavenner did not appear to play a key role in the decision to delay the employer mandate. Tavenner told the panel that she learned about the decision from her chief of staff.
“If my chief of staff said that, I'd say, 'Who in the dickens told you that?'” Rep. Mike Burgess (R-Texas) said in an interview. “It defies gravity that it would be that casual.”
In a 14-page memoreleased the same day as the hearing, Energy and Commerce Democrats charged Republicans of undermining the Affordable Care Act, and preventing "millions of their poorest constituents from receiving health insurance coverage." Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said in the hearing with Tavenner that lawmakers should work to educate the public about the law. Despite the fact that Democrats didn't like the Medicare part D program, “We went out and educated them about it,” DeGette said, referring to constituents.
And earlier in the week, President Barack Obama told the New York Times that the employer mandate delay “is the kind of routine modifications or tweaks to a large program that's starting off that in normal times in a normal political atmosphere would draw a yawn from everybody. The fact that something like this generates a frenzy on Republicans is consistent with the fact that they've voted to repeal this thing 38 times without offering a alternative that is plausible. And from what I understand, based on recent reporting, they've just given up on offering an alternative.”