Sen. Collins: Obamacare's 30-Hour Rule Will Damage Businesses

Saturday, 03 Aug 2013 09:49 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Obamacare has "perverse incentives" that allow employers to cut their employees' work hours, says Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who has introduced a bill to change the healthcare law's definition of full time work from 30 hours a week to 40.

Collins, in Saturday's GOP address, noted that under Obamacare, anyone working an average of 30 hours a week is considered full-time, meaning many employers may cut their hours so they won't have to provide them with insurance.

A 40-hour work week is full-time, we all know that," said Collins.

She noted in her address that her family founded a small business in Maine more than 160 years ago that continues to be run by two of her brothers.

"Our economy is built on millions of enterprises just like ours," she said. "It’s not easy to survive in today’s economy. But these employers remain our nation’s job creators. We should be doing all we can to promote policies to help them survive and thrive."

She also agreed that healthcare reform should provide people with access to quality and affordable care "while encouraging economic growth. That’s not what is happening under Obamacare."

Instead, Collins said, Obamacare discourages small businesses from creating jobs and hiring new workers, and "has perverse incentives for employers to reduce the number of hours that their employees can work."

Most small businesses want to provide health insurance, said Collins, but can't afford to do so under Obamacare.

Related: In addition, she said, that while businesses with 50 or more full-time employees are required to provide health insurance or face huge fines, they won't face fines if they only have 49 employees.

"These enormous penalties are a real threat to employers who want to add jobs," she said. "They are a powerful incentive for employers to refrain from hiring additional workers."

But even worse, Collins said, is the Obamacare provision that calls people who work 30 hour weeks full-time.

"This will only cause some businesses to reluctantly reduce the hours of their workers to fewer than 30 hours per week," she noted.

The public sector is also being affected, Collins said, telling of one school system in her state that is preparing to cap substitute teachers' work at no more than 29 hours a week.

She also quoted Teamsters President James Hoffa, who said recently that Obamacare will "destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class."

"They are right to be worried," said Collins. "In the past, most new jobs were full-time. But, this year, the overwhelming majority of new jobs are part-time."

She also quoted a study from the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, which said 10 million workers could have their hours cut because of Obamacare.

Collins admitted her "common sense" bill "won't solve the countless problems caused by Obamacare. But it would help ensure that millions of American workers do not have their hours, and their paychecks, reduced."

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