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Oops: GOP Bill Would Strip 1 Million Workers Of Health Coverage

Boehners-rebound
AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin

The legislation, offered by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) and 208 co-sponsors as a tweak to Obamacare, would change the definition of a full-time work week under the health care law from 30 hours per week to 40 hours. The aim was to mitigate the effect of the law's employer mandate, which says businesses with 50 or more workers must offer insurance to full-time employees.

An analysis of the bill, released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, found that it would cause 1 million people to lose their employer-based insurance coverage. The report projected that more than 500,000 of them would end up getting coverage through Medicaid, the Children's Health Care Program or the Obamacare exchanges. The rest, CBO and JCT said, would become uninsured.

The legislation would also lower the amount the federal government collects in penalties from businesses who don't abide by the employer mandate. As a result, the report found, the deficit would go up by $74 billion over 10 years.

Titled the "Save American Workers Act," the bill was touted by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) as part of the GOP's winter 2014 agenda. It cleared the House Ways & Means Committee on a party line vote earlier this month and was slated for a full House vote perhaps as early as next week. Of the bill's 208 cosponsors, seven are Democrats.

The CBO findings are problematic for Republicans in part because they've raised hell about insurance cancellations and market disruptions due to Obamacare's minimum coverage standards and other provisions.

A spokesman for Young didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"[A]s the administration continues to stumble through implementation of the law, many Americans are still confused with how this sweeping law will work and what its impact will be," the congressman said upon introducing his bill. "Repealing this redefinition [of 'full time employment'] and restoring it to the historical norm ensures this bill not only protects working poor and middle class employees, it also ensures that laws governing employment are consistent."

The reality, it appears, is less simple.

"I think this shows that [the Republicans'] repeal agenda will actually hurt or destroy jobs, and make it harder for people to get health insurance," said Alex Nguyen, a spokesman for Democrats on the Ways & Means Committee.

CBO-JCT Analysis Of H.R. 2575