House Republicans have released their latest fix for the Affordable Care Act, which would ease the requirement that employers with over 50 employees offer everyone who works more than 30 hours a week health insurance. Under the current law, if they don't offer insurance, employers pay a penalty of $2,000 to $3,000 per employee. Republicans argue that provides a big incentive for companies to cut jobs or hours, and so have titled their proposed legislation the "Save American Workers Act."
Now, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has weighed in on the effects of the proposed legislation. In a sentence: The GOP health-care fix will push people on to government health care, raise the deficit, affect more workers and increase the number of uninsured. Here are the key points:
- The CBO report finds that the GOP proposal would reduce the number of people receiving employer-sponsored health insurance by about 1 million people, but would push 500,000 to 1 million people on to Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program or the Obama administration's health marketplaces.
- It would increase the number of uninsured by up to 500,000 people.
- It would also increase the federal budget deficit by $83 billion over 10 years, because fewer employers would be paying penalties, and more people would be using taxpayer-supported health insurance.
- While some employers would no longer provide coverage, "most of the affected employers would continue to offer coverage because most employers construct compensation packages to attract the best available workers at the lowest possible cost."
- Employers would have an incentive to reduce the number of employees working 40 hours per week, just as today's law has an incentive to reduce the number of employees working 30 hours a week. But many more people work 40 hours a week than 30 hours a week, so more workers would be affected.