The White House announced today that President Obama will veto a Republican plan that will take away health insurance from one million Americans by restoring the 40-hour work week.
In a statement, the White House said,
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 30, the Save American Workers Act, because it would significantly increase the deficit, reduce the number of Americans with employer-based health insurance coverage, and create incentives for employers to shift their employees to part-time work – causing the problem it intends to solve. Rather than attempting once again to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act, which the House has tried to do over 50 times, it is time for the Congress to stop fighting old political battles and join the President in forwarding an agenda focused on providing greater economic opportunity and security for middle class families and all those working to be a part of the middle class.
This legislation would weaken a provision of the Affordable Care Act designed to maintain employer-based health insurance coverage, protect their employees, and prevent employers’ health benefit costs from being shifted to taxpayers. According to the July estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, it would increase the budget deficit by $45.7 billion over the 2015 to 2024 period, reduce the number of people receiving employer-based health insurance coverage, and increase the number of individuals who are uninsured. While the Administration appreciates the concerns that result from the current 30-hour definition of full-time work, there is no evidence that this has caused a broad shift to part-time work to date. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the Affordable Care Act became law, more than 90 percent of the increase in employment has been in full-time jobs, and over that time, the economy has added 10.8 million private-sector jobs. Furthermore, by moving the threshold to 40 hours, this legislation could cause the problem it claims to solve by greatly increasing the number of workers for whom employers may have an incentive to reduce hours to avoid the requirement.
The Affordable Care Act gives people greater control over their own health care. Since 2013, estimates show that about 10 million Americans have gained health coverage. Nearly 6.5 million have renewed or newly signed up for health insurance coverage through the Federally-facilitated Health Insurance Marketplaces to date, and open enrollment continues through February 15. Because of the Affordable Care Act, Americans who have previously been denied coverage due to a pre-existing medical condition now have access to coverage. Additionally, the law allows millions of young Americans to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, and provides access to free preventive care like cancer screenings that can catch illness early on. Equally important, the Affordable Care Act has contributed to the slowest growth in the prices of health care goods and services in 50 years.
While the Administration welcomes ideas to improve the law, H.R. 30 would shift costs to taxpayers, put workers’ hours at risk, and disrupt health insurance coverage.
If the President were presented with H.R. 30, he would veto it.
A newer CBO estimate than the one cited by the White House found that the Republican bill would increase the deficit by $53 billion.
In February of 2014, the CBO found that the Republican plan to “restore the 40 hour work week” would take away health insurance from 1 million workers. Since the CBO analysis was done almost a year ago, the number of people likely to lose their insurance is higher today.
The real world impact of what Boehner and McConnell are trying to do is take away health care from 1 million or more Americans, half of which would have to get coverage through Medicaid, CHIP, or the health insurance exchanges. The other 500,000 people would be left without access to healthcare. Republicans do not have the votes to override a presidential veto, which means that two of their first three pieces of legislation will be killed by President Obama.
Obama isn’t just threatening to veto the Republican agenda. He is dropping the veto hammer on the GOP in a rapid fire manner. The message to Boehner and McConnell is clear. They obstructed this president for six years. It is payback time, and anything that the Republicans want to pass will have to go through President Obama.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association