Obamacare red tape burden surges to 189 million hours a year — and it hasn't even started

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Obamacare

The growing tower of Obamacare red tape flooding out of federal agencies will sock American businesses and families with nearly 200 million hours of paperwork compliance a year, a 50 percent jump in just the past three months as the administration pushes out more rules.

The number of compliance hours is so staggering that three House committees, in updating their Obamacare Burden Tracker, put it in perspective by claiming that the Empire State Building could be built 27 times in the 189,822,836 hours estimated so far by the Office of Management and Budget and IRS.

Just three months ago, the House Ways and Means, Education and the Workforce, and Energy and Commerce committees first estimated the paperwork burden at 127 million hours per year. Since then, the administration has scrambled to issue more regulations in time for the Jan. 1 kickoff of the Obamacare program.

The biggest addition is a new rule that will add 46 million hours of paperwork to the makers of drugs, medical devices and medical supplies, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. They will be required to report payments to doctors and teaching hospitals and reveal investments doctors have in their companies.

An example of another burdensome rule is a new restaurant menu labeling which will require 14 million hours of paperwork compliance each year.

"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. Since many small businesses do not employ in-house lawyers and accountants, compliance costs are especially expensive and burdensome. 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," the three committees said in a statement.

"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. Worst of all, the law has failed to deliver what Americans need most -- affordable health care," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.

The surge in new time-consuming regulations, spread over 174 separate rules in the Obamacare Burden Tracker, is likely to grow as the administration gets set to start entering Americans in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Oct. 1. In February, the number of rules in the Obamacare Burden Tracker was 157.