By Elise Viebeck - 08/01/13 06:24 PM EDT
An official in charge of implementing ObamaCare drew heavy fire from Republicans after she said that businesses are not widely cutting hours because of the healthcare law.
Medicare and Medicaid chief Marilyn Tavenner said Thursday that she's aware of "isolated incidents" where employers are cutting workers' hours in order to comply with the law's rules.
But Tavenner, who is in charge of implementing ObamaCare's insurance exchanges, downplayed the prevalence of hour-cutting by employers and said the law's benefits far outweigh any negative effects.
Republicans fired back that the Obama administration is not paying attention to news reports about the choices facing business owners under ObamaCare.
Oversight subcommittee chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) called it
"phenomenal" that Tavenner was not more concerned about businesses
cutting hours and accused her of "living in Alice in Wonderland."
"You can't measure what you're not paying attention to," he said.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), head of the conservative Republican Study
Committee, said it "seems like you're living in some cocoon."
The healthcare law states that employers with 50 or more full-time workers are required to offer an employee health plan. Rules define full-time as 30 hours of work per week, and some businesses have considered cutting workers' hours down from 40 in order to avoid the rule.
Tavenner also sparred with the GOP over the cost of health insurance on the new exchanges, which she called a "good news story" in states that chose to create their own marketplaces.
Republicans lamented that some early rate advisories have predicted higher costs than previously existed in individual market.
The Health and Human Services reported last month that for the 11 states with data available, the lowest cost "silver" plan is an average of 18 percent cheaper than was predicted by federal budget auditors.
The rates for the federal exchange will be published in September, Tavenner said.