Exchange Information Disclosure Actby Representative John P. Sarbanes
Posted on 2014-01-16
SARBANES. I thank the chairman of the Health Subcommittee.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to urge a ``no'' vote on H.R. 3362, which, I think, is really just designed to harass the Department of Health and Human Services as it is trying to do its job in bringing affordable health care to people all across this country.
If you look at the metrics that are already being assembled by the agency on a monthly basis, they really present a very clear picture of whether there is progress being made or not being made with respect to the Web site and signing people up for affordable health care, and of course, we know that there is a lot of progress being made. That monthly report includes the total enrollments nationally and by State so that we can get a clear picture of what that trend is, and that is a positive trend. It includes a gender breakdown of those who have signed up for the plans, an age breakdown, the financial assistance, and what kinds of plans people are choosing. That is all good, useful information. Frankly, it is the kind of information that it makes sense to collect on a monthly basis, not on a weekly basis. I mean, these numbers sort of naturally evolve month to month. That is the picture, the photograph, you want to take--month to month. Week to week doesn't really get you any added insight into what is happening with the Web site or with the signups.
Then look at some of the information that they would require on a weekly basis, and you have got to ask yourself: What purpose would it serve, a State-by-State breakdown--I am reading from the bill now--of the number of Web chat logins? What are we going to do with that information? That is not useful. That does not add anything to the clear picture that can emerge on a monthly basis of how we are doing with the Web site.
Finally, I have to observe, as Ranking Member Waxman just did a moment ago, that we hear all the time from our friends on the other side about the importance of government efficiency and about working well and streamlining. We hear them talk about that both with respect to government and, obviously, in terms of what they want to do for private sector businesses out there. These kinds of requirements don't help with that. They are not going to make the agency function more smoothly and more efficiently and get the information out in a sensible way to the American people.
This is really just designed to kind of harass the agency, to make them run around in small circles, gathering information and providing stuff that doesn't give us any added perspective or insight into the progress that really is now being made. We can get that picture on a monthly basis. The information that HHS is providing to us and to the public--to the American people--I think, is very valuable on that monthly basis, and that is the way we ought to continue to have it presented to us and presented to the American people.
So I urge my colleagues to vote against H.R. 3362. Let's let the agency do its job and do it well.