Bob Goodlatte: An unaffordable mandate

bob-goodlatte-afp2It speaks volumes when one of the most vocal supporters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, says it will “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class” if not fixed.  But that is what James Hoffa, president of the Teamsters union, made clear last year in a letter to Democratic leadership in Congress.

The troubling provision in the law being referred to is the employer mandate, or “30-hour rule,” which redefines a full-time employee as someone who works 30 hours per week – not the 40 hours most of us are familiar with. The employer mandate, which is set to begin in 2015, requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees, working 30 plus hours a week, to offer health care coverage. If the employer does not, they will likely be forced to pay a penalty.

According to the Hoover Institution, 2.6 million workers with a median family income of less than $30,000 dollars are at risk of having their hours cut as a result of the 30-hour rule. Some businesses have already started reducing full-time employees’ hours below 30 hours a week or have replaced those full-time employees with part-time workers to avoid the mandate. I have heard from businesses in the sixth district who are making the tough decision to cut hours or forgo hiring new workers. I’ve also heard from many hardworking individuals who are facing reduced hours, and consequently smaller paychecks, due to this mandate.

Not only does this mandate jeopardize employee hours and jobs, it also penalizes the businesses who want to grow beyond 50 employees. If they grow too large, they will be faced with new costs stemming from the employer mandate. This is just further proof that this law is anything but affordable for American families and businesses.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives took action to protect American workers from the consequences of the new 30-hour rule. The Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), which I cosponsored, passed the House by a bipartisan vote. This legislation would repeal the 30-hour definition of “full-time employment” in Obamacare and restore the traditional 40-hour definition. I hope the Senate will see the reality of the flawed employer mandate, and pass this bill.

While I will continue to support legislation that addresses the harmful effects of this law, I believe the entire law should be repealed. Instead of placing more burdens on American families and businesses, we must replace the current law with patient-centered alternatives that truly redefine this Administration’s meaning of affordable care.

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