IRS chief: 'Whenever we can, we follow the law'

During another grueling hearing on the ObamaCare rollout, the head of the IRS tried to offer lawmakers an assurance about the soon-to-open enrollment period.

“Whenever we can, we follow the law,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health on Wednesday.

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Rep. Kevin BradyKevin BradyRepublican chairman: Our tax reform plan fits with Trump's vision House Republicans roll out new blueprint for tax reform GOP draws battle line with ObamaCare alternative MORE (R-Texas), who leads the subcommittee, immediately expressed his concern with the remarks.

“I encourage you to follow the law in all instances,” Brady said.
 
Koskinen, who was confirmed as head of IRS last December, has repeatedly faced lawmakers' ire over the agency's targeting of conservative groups.

Lawmakers spent a majority of Wednesday's hearing grilling Koskinen and Andy Slavitt, HealthCare.gov's fix-it man, on how they would verify that consumers were providing correct income information as they signed up for insurance subsidies.

Koskinen, who said he’s been meeting with tech and business staff every two weeks since January, said things are “on track” to verify income for all new enrollees.

Still, Slavitt acknowledged that the administration faces a “trust gap” in ObamaCare’s second year of implementation.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) cautioned against what he described as unchecked power given to the IRS under the healthcare law. He demanded to know how the Obama administration would prevent a “Lois Lerner 2.0 situation."

“It seems to me that the IRS is just poised to go swimming in a big pool of money,” Roskam said. “Are these the same IT people that can’t find Lois Lerner’s emails or deal with her hard drives?”

Koskinen was asked if he defended Lerner, to which he replied, “No, I don’t know her."

It was Slavitt’s first public appearance since the federal government announced last week that HealthCare.gov had been hacked in July. But just one lawmaker, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), prodded Slavitt about the security breach.

Price questioned why insurance company leaders told him they had learned about the hack from media reports. Slavitt disputed the claim, saying he had personally informed a representative from the insurance association about the breach.