The bill passed largely along party lines on a 252-172 vote, with Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema voting with the Arizona GOP delegation (Congressman Ruben Gallego was not present for the vote, as he was with President Obama touring his district in Phoenix on Thursday).
Teresa Tritch at the New York Times explains, The New ‘Obamacare’ Bill Would Hurt Workers and Increase the Deficit:
House Republicans are expected to bring to the floor an anti-“Obamacare” bill that is, from start to finish, an exercise in dishonesty.
The health reform law requires employers with at least 50 full time-equivalent employees to offer health insurance to those who work at least 30 hours a week, or pay a penalty. The bill seeks to limit the employer requirement to employees who work at least 40 hours a week. Its supporters, mostly Republicans and a handful of Democrats, are counting on winning over the public with the argument that a 30 hour threshold will cause employers to cut back work hours and that a 40-hour threshold will foster more full time work. But that’s wrong.
First, there is little evidence that the law, as is, is causing employers to cut hours. Worse, a higher threshold would actually increase the number of employees at risk of having their hours cut.
Here’s why: Under the law’s 30-hour a week threshold, the only workers at any real risk of having their hours cut are those who typically work right around 30 hours a week – about 7 percent of the workforce. If the threshold were raised to 40 hours, as the bill proposes, the workers at risk of having their hours cut would be those who typically work right around 40 hours a week — nearly half of the workforce. After all, it would be relatively easy to cut someone back from 40 to 38 hours, but quite unlikely to cut from 40 to 29 hours. So in purporting to solve what is basically a non-problem, the bill could actually create a real problem.
The actual aim of the bill is not to protect employees from cuts to their work hours. The aim is to undermine health reform and curry favor with corporate constituents. In contrast to the 30 hour threshold in current law, the bill’s proposed 40 hour threshold would let businesses deny insurance to employees who work between 30 and 39 hours a week, without paying a penalty. Over 10 years, that would shift increase the budget deficit by shifting some $46 billion of the cost of insuring those employees onto taxpayers, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office says it would create a $53 billion hit to the deficit and increase the uninsured rate.
The agency thinks that 1 million fewer people would get health insurance at work: an employer might decide not to offer coverage to someone who works 35 hours per week, for example, because they no longer face a penalty.Some of these people would just be out of luck — a bit fewer than 500,000 people, CBO says, would end up uninsured. More would end up on government programs: between 500,000 and 1 million people would join Medicaid or enroll through the exchanges (maybe with a federal subsidy, if they earn less than 400 percent of the poverty line) after losing their employer coverage.
As a result, CBO estimates that the federal government would end up spending $53.2 billion more on the Affordable Care Act.
The White House has issued a veto threat, which probably explains Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s chickenshit vote to gut the employer mandate under “ObamaCare” — there is no consequence to her action.
Linda Valdez of the Arizona Republic explained Sinema’s self-serving political “savvy” earlier this week in Gosar, Sinema rebel; Kirkpatrick takes a hit:
Sinema voted for civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis instead of Nancy Pelosi.
She said in a statement: “This year, which marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, makes Congressman Lewis’s contributions to equality and justice in our country even more poignant.”
[She] gets political benefits from this minor rebellion.
Sinema looks moderate by distancing herself from Pelosi — and noble for honoring Lewis. A two-fer that shows her political savvy.
I don’t know how politically “savvy” it looks to take employer sponsored health plans away from a million workers and force a half-million to a million workers onto Medicaid, or leave them without any health insurance coverage, all while undermining a major policy achievement of the Democratic Party and adding to the federal deficit. Few people follow bills, so Sinema can feel confident that she can get away with it.
I expect this from our GOP congressional delegation. I expect and demand better from our Democratic congressional delegation.