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House probes Obama's authority to delay Obamacare

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Health,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Obamacare,Health Care,House Ways and Means Committee

The House Ways and Means Committee is questioning whether the president and his administration can delay implementing the so-called "employer mandate" without breaking the Obamacare law that kicks in January 1.

The committee's health subcommittee has called a hearing on Wednesday to investigate the administration's surprise decision last week announced quietly on a Treasury Department blog.

The change gives employers a another year to figure out how they must comply with Obamacare, but the administration made no move to delay the individual mandate which requires all Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine.

The hearing will look at what authority Treasury relied on to delay implementation of the employer mandate and how the delay will impact other aspects of Obamacare. "This hearing will allow the subcommittee to focus specifically on the administration's ability to make regulatory enforcement decisions on statutory provisions in law," a panel spokesperson said in a statement.

The chairman of the subcommittee, Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, said that his hearing will also review criticism that the employer mandate when implemented after the mid-term elections will hurt workers and businesses.

Brady said he wants to know why the delay of the employer mandate enforcement followed repeated assurances from top Obamacare officials that the program was proceeding on time. "I want to know why, after repeated assurances that everything was on track and that no more deadlines would be missed, that the administration has taken this action. It is time for the administration to explain to the American people why it's acceptable to grant this delay, while at the same time taking no action whatsoever to provide any relief from the individual mandate," he said in a statement.

Those expected to testify are:

Avik Roy, senior fellow, Manhattan Institute.

James Capretta, a fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

William Dennis Jr., senior research fellow, National Federation of Independent Business.

Sean Falk, owner, WolFTeaM LLC.

Timothy Jost of Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.