January 08, 2015

Lujan: Republicans' Latest Attack on ACA Will Increase the Number of Uninsured and Increase the Deficit

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District voted today against House Republicans’ latest effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by changing the requirement that large employers offer health coverage to employees who work 30 or more hours a week or face a penalty.  The Republicans’ legislation raises the threshold to 40 hours a week, which will increase the number of uninsured Americans, result in a million people losing their employer-sponsored coverage, and increase the deficit by billions of dollars.

“Nobody should want to see workers’ hours reduced in an effort by businesses to avoid providing health care coverage to their workers, but this change to the ACA makes it easier for large businesses to do just that.  It undermines the effort to ensure that more workers receive access to affordable, quality health care,” Congressman Luján said.  “As a result of the ACA, the number of uninsured Americans has dropped to a record low, yet this bill threatens to remove one million people from their employer-sponsored coverage and move hundreds of thousands of people back to the ranks of the uninsured.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, this effort to dismantle a key provision of the Affordable Care Act will add $53 billion to the deficit.  Clearly House Republicans’ claim that they are committed to deficit reduction is nothing more than empty rhetoric.”

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, changing the 30-hour threshold – which was designed to minimize gamesmanship by employers to avoid the law’s requirement – to 40 hours, will:

•    Increase the federal deficit by $53 billion over the next decade;
•    Result in one million people losing their employer-sponsored coverage;
•    Increase the number of uninsured by up to 500,000; and
•    Increase the number of people obtaining coverage through Medicaid, CHIP, and Health Insurance Marketplaces by 500,000 to one million people.

Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted part-time workers as a share of all workers has fallen from 19.7 percent to 18.2 percent.  With only about 7 percent of employees working 30 to 34 hours a week and 44 percent working 40 hours a week, this legislation makes a shift toward part-time employment much more likely, making it easier for employers to cut back hours from 40 to 39 for their workers in order to avoid having to offer health coverage.

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