The head of the agency tasked with enforcing ObamaCare said Thursday that he'd rather not get his own health insurance from the system created by the health care overhaul.
"I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I'm pleased with rather than go through a change if I don't need to go through that change," said acting IRS chief Danny Werfel, during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.
The statement quickly fueled Republican criticism of the law, as well as their calls to block the IRS from enforcing it.
"Count the head of the IRS among the growing list of folks that includes Big Labor and the law's chief architect who are deeply skeptical of the president's signature achievement and don't want any part of it," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a statement. "No American -- even the head of the IRS -- should be subjected to ObamaCare."
Werfel, in his testimony, was trying to address concerns from IRS employees and other federal workers who do not want to be forced into the so-called insurance "exchanges" -- regulated marketplaces where insurance, much of it subsidized, will be sold as early as next year. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., has been pushing a bill that would force federal workers into the exchanges, and out of their federal health care plans.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS workers, recently came out against that bill and urged members to oppose it.
Asked about the NTEU position, Werfel said he could offer his "perspective" as a federal employee. He said the Affordable Care Act was designed to "provide an option or an alternative" for individuals who do not have affordable coverage.
"And all else being equal, I think if you're an individual who is satisfied with your health care coverage, you're probably in a better position to stick with that coverage than go through the change of moving into a different environment and going through that process," Werfel said.
Other employees in the private sector, however, might not get that choice -- amid concerns that the costs and regulations associated with the law could compel some employers to drop coverage for workers and/or reduce staffing levels to contain costs, sending more workers into the ObamaCare exchanges.
Some Republicans in Congress are trying to ramp up efforts to stall the law. The House voted last month to delay the law's key insurance mandates, while Republicans in the Senate have launched a separate effort to try and defund the law in the next fiscal year's budget. A number of Republicans, though, are not on board with that effort, saying it does not have the votes to succeed.
Cornyn, in response to Werfel's testimony, urged the acting IRS chief to back his legislation to block the IRS from enforcing the health care law.