Conservatives Resist Their Party’s Plan To Change Full-Time Status In Affordable Care Act

Just before the Republican-led Congress is set to vote on legislation that would redefine a full-time worker under the Affordable Care Act, conservatives are expressing opposition for their party’s plan.
The first major bill of the 114th Congress would change the definition of a full-time worker under Obamacare as someone who works 30 hours a week to one who works 40 hours a week.
The move comes just as the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate goes into effect, forcing businesses with 100 or more full-time employees to offer at least 70 percent of their workforce health insurance or pay a penalty.
By making the 30-hour workweek the benchmark of full-time employment, the Obama administration was hoping more employers would be encouraged to provide health insurance. The Republican bill would reduce the number of businesses covered under that part of the act, but conservatives were still concerned that businesses could slash hours to remove themselves from the criteria.
More than half of all U.S. employees work at least 40 hours a week, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based foundation that studies health care. Only about 9 percent of those workers do not receive employer-provided health insurance.
“At a full-time definition of 40 hours per week, there are more than twice as many workers at high risk of hours reductions because they are within five hours of the full-time definition at firms that do not offer health insurance coverage,” the study said.
Adding those workers to the federally subsidized health insurance exchanges would also boost the federal deficit by more than $73 billion over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office reported.
Conservative writer Yuval Levin said in the National Review in November that the planned legislation “seems likely to be worse than doing nothing,” because although employees who are currently working 30 hours a week are at risk of seeing their hours cut, it would be just as easy for an employer to cut a workers’ hours from 40 a week to 39 to avoid the mandate.
President Obama is expected to veto the bill if it crosses his desk later this week.
“This proposed change would actually do a lot of harm, not just to the Affordable Care Act but to a substantial number of workers across the country,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “It would be putting even more workers in a situation where we could see some employers cutting back on their hours to try to avoid the requirement of providing them quality health insurance.”

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