And the Republican assault on Obamacare in the 114th Congress begins in earnest.
On Thursday, House Republicans will vote on an anti-Obamacare bill that could toss up to 1.5 million Americans off their employer-sponsored health plans. To make the case that this is a good idea, top GOPers are misrepresenting what the legislation would do. They claim the measure would help prevent companies from reducing worker hours in order to cut employees' health insurance benefits. Yet the legislation would likely encourage businesses to decrease hours so the firms could avoid providing health insurance to workers. "While political leaders often stretch the truth to make their case, they usually don't claim the opposite of the truth," Robert Greenstein, the president of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), noted Wednesday. "That, however, is essentially what Republican congressional leaders are doing."
The bill House Republicans introduced Wednesday would change the way the Affordable Care Act defines full-time work and, thus, who is eligible for employer-sponsored health care. Currently, the ACA requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide affordable health coverage to 95 percent of their full-time workers or pay a penalty. This measure, called the employer mandate, begins to go into effect this year. Under the 2010 health care law, full-time work is defined as 30 or more hours per week. The GOP bill would change the law's definition of full time to 40 hours per week.
The bottom line? 1.5 million Americans would lose their employer-sponsored health insurance, and because of the 40 hour line, they'd lose a host of other benefits too, like paid vacation, medical leave, and of course, hours.
In other words, employers could cut people to 39.5 hours a week and save a lot of money, rather than having to cut people to 29.5 hours a week just to keep them off insurance (and having to hire more people, which doesn't really save them money).
But that's what Republicans are fighting for, to cut benefits to millions.