Businesses Urge Change to Obamacare's Insurance Mandate

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Washington Democrat Jim McDermott put it more bluntly: That businesses are being forced to cut hours due to Obamacare is a "preposterous accusation."

Republicans are leading the charge to repeal the 30-hour rule. Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.) introduced a bill last June -- the Save American Workers Act -- that sets the bar for full-time health insurance coverage at 40 hours. The measure has 192 Republican co-sponsors.

A similar Senate bill, with 13 co-sponsors, including two Democrats, and a companion bill in the House with largely Democratic backing have also been introduced.

Is the 30-hour rule really a job killer? Experts disagree on its impact.

Lanhee Chen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and lecturer in public policy and law at Stanford University, told the House committee Tuesday that the 30-hour rule will likely make it harder for people to find full-time work. He said the rule disproportionately harms women, those without a college degree, young Americans and the poor.

Helen Levy, a University of Michigan research associate professor, cited research suggesting that concerns about employers cutting worker hours are overstated. Hawaii's decades-old employer mandate, which requires health coverage for people working 20 or more hours a week, has had no significant effect on overall employment compared with the rest of the United States, she said.

What's more, moving to a 40-hour threshold "would actually make the potential problem much worse," Levy said, because there are many more uninsured workers who work 40 hours than 30 hours.

"If you move the threshold, there are about three times as many workers who would be vulnerable at that higher level," she said.

Moving to a 40-hour threshold would harm more workers and raise federal spending on health insurance subsidies, Sherry Glied, dean of New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, said in a recent blog for The Commonwealth Fund.

"It's probably going to backfire and cause more people's lives to be disrupted," she said.

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