A new Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, report shows Obamacare is expected to eliminate the equivalent of 2.3 million jobs over the next decade – a huge jump from original estimates – and opponents of the law say it’s more proof that repeal is the only solution.
The CBO report states the estimate is based on reduced working hours for some employees and the elimination of other positions by employers who want to avoid being required to provide health coverage to their employees.
Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a longtime physician and author of a repeal and replacement bill, told Radio America’s Greg Corombos this news is awful but not surprising.
“You’ve got fewer jobs that are being created because of the 30-hour threshold for full-time employees. You’ve got employers with 50 employees who are trying to get under the 50-employee threshold so they don’t come under the oppressive nature of Obamacare,” he explained. “There are all sorts of disincentives for employment within the law itself, and I think that’s one of the things CBO finally recognized.”
Price added that this report not only confirms the new law is a hindrance to job creation but actively eliminates existing jobs.
“People are losing their jobs because of Obamacare,” he said. “The number of employers that are decreasing the number of employees as well as the number of hours worked are having a huge effect on the economy.
“And then the requirements for employers to provide a level of health coverage greater than their employees either desire or need or the employer provided before, what that means is there’s more money taken out of businesses and employers, the job creators in this country, so that they have fewer jobs that they are able to cover from a financial standpoint.”
Listen to Radio America’s Greg Corombos interview Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.:
Coincidentally, defenders of Obamacare also consider the CBO report to be good news. Maryland's Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the job numbers simply show that millions more people will have the option of having health coverage without depending upon an employer to provide it.
"The report estimates that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent from 2017 to 2024. This reduction is almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor, which translates to a reduction in full-time-equivalent employment of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024," Van Hollen said in a statement.
Van Hollen continued, "This effect is not driven by a reduction in the demand for employees, but is the result of employees choosing to supply less labor because of the option to get affordable, quality health insurance through the new health insurance Marketplaces. The Affordable Care Act empowers individuals to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods, like retiring on time, choosing to spend more time with their families, or even opening their own businesses. Americans are no longer trapped in jobs just to provide coverage for their families."
Other supporters see additional good news here as well. Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik said the report shows the new law will end up being cheaper than expected, result in more American having health coverage and that risk-adjustment provisions will turn a profit for the U.S. Treasury.
But Rep. Price is not swayed.
"Our goal ought not to be returning a profit to the U.S. Treasury. It ought to be allowing for individual American dreams to be realized, as opposed to stifled by Obamacare. That's the problem with our friends on the left is that they view everything through the prism and the lens of government as opposed to through the prism and the lens of individual Americans. This is destroying real people's lives," he said.
"Although our friends on the left are excited when government expands, the fact of the matter is, when government expands, liberty shrinks."
While Price and his allies worry about the impact of Obamacare on the freedom and bottom line of employers and employees alike, the congressman said even more problems are coming for patients because of a looming exodus of the best physicians.
"So many physicians now are just disheartened," he said. "I'm 59. The vast majority of former medical colleagues my age are looking for the exit doors. It's so sad because what we're doing as a nation as a matter of public policy is taking this incredible intellectual power of the physicians of this land and those that are near retirement and telling them, 'Look, just go away.' And we as patients are losing the expertise at a time when all these folks ought to be able to practice medicine and care for their fellow citizens for another 10-15 years.
"They're looking to get out of the system because of Obamacare, not because they've forgotten how to care for people or they've lost their passion for caring for people but because the president's health care law is destroying their ability to care for patients in a responsible way," he said.
Price said Tuesday's CBO report helps sets the stage for a clear choice for voters this year.