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Business Meeting

April 23, 2015 10:00 AM

Small Business Committee Hearing Room, 428A Russell Senate Office Building 10:00am EST

Chairman David Vitter

Good morning. The Committee will come to order so that we can proceed with today’s business meeting. We will be doing a markup of several important bills and amendments that have bipartisan support. We will also be addressing the authorization of a subpoena to the Executive Director of the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority that is aimed at obtaining 9 pages of un-redacted applications completed by the House of Representatives and Senate to enroll in D.C. Health Link’s small business exchange.

Congressional members and staff currently receive health care benefits, including tax-payer funded contributions, through D.C. Health Link’s small business exchange. As Chair of this Committee, I began investigating how Congress could possibly qualify as a small business. Obamacare defines a “small employer” as a business with an average of not more than 100 employees in the past year. It currently gives states, including the District of Columbia, the option of further shrinking that number to not more than 50 employees. Accordingly, Washington, D.C. has chosen to define “small employer” as a business that employs an average of not more than 50 employees. There is no disputing that Congress employs several thousand people and falls far outside of the “small employer” definition clearly codified in Obamacare and Washington, D.C.’s law.

My investigation uncovered applications completed by the House of Representatives and the Senate to be on the small business exchange. These applications contain blatantly false misrepresentations. For example, they claim that the House and Senate each employ only 45 full-time equivalent employees; they state that Congress is a “state/local government;” and they list employee names that are clearly made up. At the end of each application, the source that signed it dishonestly attests that Congress employs 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees, and that truthful answers were given under the threat of a penalty. Any information that could identify the source of these fraudulent statements is redacted.

In early February, I sent a letter to the Executive Director of D.C. Health Link seeking copies of the applications – totaling only 9 pages – in their original, un-redacted form. Despite several follow-up correspondences requesting this information, and a face-to-face meeting with my staff, D.C. Health Link has failed to comply. I have given D.C. Health Link ample time to cooperate with this simple request, and have made a strong effort to be reasonable and to work with them without the need to resort to compulsory means.

Let me be clear, this subpoena requests only that the 9 pages of applications that have already been made public be produced in their un-redacted form. It does not seek any other documents.

Voting to consent to the subpoena promotes transparency and accountability within our government, and encourages Congress to play by the rules it makes without receiving special benefits or allowances at the expense of the American people. Accordingly, I ask that the Committee consent to authorizing the issuance of this subpoena.


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