WASHINGTON — Several million American workers will cut back their hours on the job or leave the nation's workforce entirely because of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, congressional analysts said Tuesday, adding fresh fuel to the political fight over "Obamacare."
Analysis estimates effect as people lose incentive to maintain long hours
The workforce changes would mean nationwide losses equal to 2.3 million full-time workers by 2021, in large part because people would opt to keep their income low to stay eligible for federal health care subsidies or Medicaid, the Congressional Budget Office said. It had estimated previously that the law would lead to 800,000 fewer workers by that year.
Republican lawmakers seized on the report as major new evidence of what they consider the failures of Obama's health coverage overhaul, which they're trying to overturn and planning to use as a main argument against Democrats in November's midterm elections.
It's the latest indication that "the president's health care law is destroying full-time jobs," said Republican Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. "This fatally flawed health care scheme is wreaking havoc on working families nationwide."
But the White House said the possible reduction would be due to voluntary steps by workers rather than businesses' cutting jobs — people having the freedom to retire early or spend more time as stay-at-home parents because they no longer had to depend only on their employers for health insurance.
The law means people "will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf said the top reasons people would reduce work would be to qualify for subsidized coverage and an expanded Medicaid program but that lower wages — because of penalties on employers who don't provide coverage and looming taxes on generous health care plans — would also be a factor.More: