Instead of trying to change Obamacare’s definition of a full-time worker from 30 hours to 40 hours a week, the new Republican-led Congress should repeal the employer mandate altogether, writes the National Review’s Yuval Levin
Redefining a full-time worker under Obamacare is one of the first bills the 114th Congress is tackling, but The New York Times reports
that a group of conservatives agree with Levin and others that the proposed legislation "seems likely to be worse than doing nothing."
"Putting the cutoff for the employer mandate at 40 hours would likely put far, far more people at risk of having their hours cut than leaving it at 30 hours," Levin wrote. "That would make for a worse effect on workers and on the economy.
"So by setting the definition lower, Obamacare’s architects were trying to mitigate the damaging effects of the employer mandate some, and by setting it higher Republicans would be worsening those effects."
One of the key provisions of Obamacare mandates that small- or medium-sized business with more than 50 full-time employees (defined currently as someone who works at least 30 hours per week) must provide health coverage for those workers or be subject to a fine.
Republicans have long argued that the 30-hour threshold will prompt employers to cut staff hours to stay below the 50 full-time employee mark.
But Levin and some other respected conservatives, including Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, think it’s a bad idea to tinker with a law they believe should be tossed altogether.
"Main case vs. 30-hour work week legislation: Why should Republicans try to fix Obamacare? Dismantle, yes. Fix, no," Kristol tweeted Tuesday morning, followed by a second tweet a few minutes later calling for House conservatives to "show clout by blocking this ill-advised "fix" of Obamacare."
Levin cites a study that found nearly 29 million employees of large firms work between 40 and 44 hours a week, compared with 7 million people who work between 30 and 39 hours a week.
"For reasons of both policy and politics, it seems to me that a repeal of the employer mandate makes much more sense than an adjustment of its definition of full-time work," he writes. "And that adjustment, quite apart from the appeal of other measures, seems likely to be worse than doing nothing."
A vote in the House to change the definition of full-time employee to 40 hours is scheduled for Thursday. A similar bill passed the House last year.
President Barack Obama has vowed to veto it.
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