Just how many hours is it going to take to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?
Enough time to build Mount Rushmore more than 1,500 times over, or to build the Empire State Building 27 times — at least according to House Republicans.
The GOP lawmakers said complying with President Obama’s health care law will take roughly 190 million hours per year. That's 189,822,836 hours, to be exact.
Their report — contained in what they're calling the Obamacare Burden Tracker — was compiled by staff at the Ways and Means, Education and the Workforce, and Energy and Commerce committees. It tallied 174 different requirements of the law, and totaled the amount of work required to implement those requirements. The amount of each requirement was based on responsible agencies’ own estimates.
Among the biggest time burdens? Changes to Medicaid eligibility, grandfathered plan disclosures, mandatory calorie labeling on restaurant menus and tax credits to help small businesses pay for health insurance.
“Every hour and dollar spent complying with the Democrats’ health care law are time and resources being taken from spending time with family, growing a business and creating jobs, or caring for patients,” House Republicans said in a statement.
“Since many small businesses do not employ in-house lawyers and accountants, compliance costs are especially expensive and burdensome,” they said. “Given the new demands of complying with the law, it is not surprising that over 70 percent of small businesses cite the health care law as a major obstacle to job creation.”
Republicans have been unrelenting in hammering the Obama administration over PPACA, arguing the law will do little to actually improve health care and its costs.
More recently, top Democrats have also expressed their concerns over the law’s implementation. Max Baucus, a senior Democrat who helped write the law, made headlines when he predicted a “train wreck” coming for PPACA during an April budget hearing, citing concern that the exchanges for consumers and small businesses wouldn’t open on time in every state.
House Republicans launched the Obamacare Burden Tracker in February as an online resource to help the public keep track of “all of the new government mandates, rules, and red tape as a result of PPACA.” They said they will continue to update it as the administration releases new rules.
In February, the tally was at 127 million hours annually, a figure Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) then called “just the tip of the iceberg” in challenges over the law.
“This is just another example of the Obama administration placing the burden of their policies on the backs of those who are already doing more with less time and resources — families and small businesses,” Camp said in a statement in February.
Republicans also said much of the time burden would fall on insurers, hospitals, doctors, consumers and employers.
The surge in hours of compliance, the lawmakers said, is likely to grow as the administration updates and finalizes rules as the bulk of the law goes into effect Jan. 1.