- A Republican bill to change how Obamacare defines a full work-week would raise the deficit by $53.2 billion over the next decade.
- The bill would also leave more Americans uninsured.
- The bill would change Obamacare to only require employers to cover people who work 40 hours each week. The current bill mandates coverage for those who work 30 hours, a rule that critics say leads to employers cutting hours to stay under the threshold.
CBO: Bill would increase government spending on insurance
The Congressional Budget Office analysis plays out the chain reaction that would happen if Obamacare's definition of a work week moved from 30 hours per week, up to 40.
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.
There are other problems with the bill, too
The fact that it would increase federal spending is one among numerous criticisms of changing Obamacare's work week definition that Matt Yglesias already wrote about:
What Republicans have hit upon, however, is a cure worse than the disease. Their proposal, as outlined by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, is to "restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment, removing an arbitrary and destructive government barrier to more hours and better pay created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010."
Except it turns out that the authors of the ACA weren't idiots. As Yuval Levin explained in a recent National Review item, the 30 hour threshold was established "in part to limit the degree to which employers cut worker hours by putting the cut-off well below the number of hours that most workers put in." Sherry Glied and Claudia Solis-Rosman have shown that while working slightly more than 40 hours is common, working slightly more than 30 hours is rare. In other words, few workers are at risk of having hours slashed from 31 per week to 29, but many could be cut back from 41 to 39.
Read more from Matt here.