GOP plan to chip away at employer mandate could backfire

Republicans targeting 30-hour work week, but President will veto

New year, new leadership. With Republicans now in charge of the House and Senate, their first order of business is to slowly chip away at the Affordable Care Act by targeting the employer mandate. A new bill would increase the full-time 30-hour work week to 40 hours, reported BenefitsPro.

The GOP argues that setting the full-time work week at 30 hours actually hurts part-time workers, as employers cut employees' hours so that they are required to cover fewer employees.  

"It's hurt people's take-home pay," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said on Fox News toward the end of last year. "It made people that work part-time have their hours cut to less than 30 hours a week."

However, this plan may backfire. This new bill could end up increasing Americans' dependence on government-provided health insurance and raise the deficit, according to The Washington Post.

Last year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) calculated, that should the GOP bill pass, 1 million people would be dropped from their employer-sponsored insurance. CBO also predicted the deficit to increase by about $45.7 billion over 10 years if the bill passes, noted The Post.

It's possible that the 40-hour work week could put more employees at risk for having their hours reduced. "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," an analysis from the Commonwealth Fund found, as noted in The Post.

This past November, The National Review's Yuval Levin wrote that adjusting the 40-hour work week "seems likely to be worse than doing nothing," according to The Post.

This morning, the White House officially announced its plan via a formal statement to veto the bill. "By moving the threshold to 40 hours, this legislation could cause the problem it claims to solve by greatly increasing the number of worker for whom employers may have an incentive to reduce hours to avoid the requirement," the statement noted, according to The Hill

For more:
- here's the BenefitsPro article
- check out The Post piece
- here's The Hill story

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