That was the unequivocal message HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius delivered to members of the House Ways and Means Committee on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Congressional Republicans and other opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have lambasted the administration for announcing multiple delays and postponements on essential aspects of the controversial healthcare law, which critics say are often timed to coincide with major holidays in an effort to downplay the news.
No delays on individual mandate, Sebelius confirms
Those concerns surfaced again Wednesday morning when Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, asked the administration's top health official if her department plans to extend open enrollment on the exchanges past March 31 or delay the law's individual mandate to purchase insurance.
Brady received an emphatic “No, sir” from Sebelius on both questions.
The secretary was called to testify before the influential tax panel about the Obama administration's fiscal 2015 budget, but ended up fielding several questions about the ACA and the health insurance exchanges.
For instance, Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) asked Sebelius about reports he's read that up to 20% of individuals who have selected plans have not yet paid their premiums. Sebelius said she believes that estimate is based on information from insurers at the start of the year whom she said were “heartened that they had about an 80% payment rate” at that point. HHS doesn't yet have detailed information about premium payments, Sebelius added.
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