The head of the agency charged with administering Obamacare said Thursday that he would rather keep his own insurance than get coverage under the system created by President Barack Obama's single domestic policy achievement.
"I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I'm pleased with rather than go through a change if I don't need to go through that change," acting IRS chief Danny Werfel told the House Ways and Means Committee, Fox News reports.
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Werfel's admission immediately fueled Republican criticism of the law, as well as their calls to block the Internal Revenue Service from enforcing it.
"Count the head of the IRS among the growing list of folks that includes Big Labor and the law's chief architect who are deeply skeptical of the president's signature achievement and don't want any part of it," said GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. "No American — even the head of the IRS — should be subjected to Obamacare."
The IRS will be administering 47 separate provisions under Obamacare. It is the second-largest agency, after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, charged with implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The IRS is required to administer Obamacare's required purchase of health coverage, checking whether millions of Americans are in compliance.
In his testimony, Werfel tried to explain concerns from IRS employees and other federal workers who do not want to be forced into the Obamacare "exchanges" – regulated marketplaces where insurance, much of it subsidized, will be sold as early as next year.
Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, has introduced legislation that would force federal workers into the exchanges, and out of their federal healthcare plans.
And the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS workers, last week urged members to oppose Camp's bill.
Asked about the union's position, Werfel said he could offer his "perspective" as a federal employee. He said Obamacare was designed to "provide an option or an alternative" for individuals who do not have affordable coverage.
"And, all else being equal, I think if you're an individual who is satisfied with your healthcare coverage, you're probably in a better position to stick with that coverage than go through the change of moving into a different environment and going through that process," he said, according to Fox.
Other private-sector employees, however, might not have that choice, especially as concerns rise that the costs and regulations associated with Obamacare could compel some employers to drop coverage for workers and even reduce staffing levels to contain costs.
This would force more workers into the Obamacare exchanges.
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Some Capitol Hill Republicans are stepping up their efforts to stall Obamacare, if not defund it.
The House voted last month to delay the law's critical insurance mandates, while Senate Republicans are seeking to defund the law in the next fiscal year's budget. But that effort may not have the votes to succeed, some GOP legislators tell Fox.
Meanwhile, Cornyn urged Werfel to back his legislation to block the IRS from enforcing Obamacare, Fox reports.
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