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By Congressman Robert Hurt
Over the course of my time in Washington, my Republican colleagues in the House and I have made it a priority to develop a way to bring meaningful reform to our healthcare system that does not harm our economy and reduce jobs. Americans deserve a plan to reform healthcare in a way that does not put our small businesses and families at risk with overwhelming tax increases and unnecessary regulatory burdens.
It seems like every week, another aspect of the President’s health care law is deemed unworkable and unsustainable. The latest in this series came last week as local governments began announcing that they would be cutting employee hours due to the costs associated with the law. Cities and counties across the country are desperate for ways to compensate for the hundreds of thousands of dollars the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is going to cost them, and many are being forced to reduce their part-time employees’ hours to do so.
Under the Affordable Care Act, state and local governments are required to provide health care coverage to employees working upwards of 30 hours each week. In order to avoid these high costs, these public entities are being forced to make the difficult decision to reduce employee hours.
This news comes on the heels of the one-year delay of the employer mandate last month, which requires companies with over 50 employees to provide health care under the overhaul. By implementing this delay, the Administration admitted that the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable and unworkable for businesses. Unfortunately, the same is being proven true for state and local governments.
Within Virginia, the City of Lynchburg has had to cut hours for 35 to 40 part-time employees, and Chesterfield County is predicting cutting hours of several hundred of their employees. Earlier this year, Danville Community College had to cut hours as a result of ACA mandating that employers provide coverage for employees working over 30 hours per week, which would have cost the college from $220,000 to $250,000.
Virginians, like all Americans, are struggling with higher costs for food, fuel, and utilities - the last thing they need are fewer hours and lower pay. This is just another example demonstrating why the government takeover of health care is the wrong prescription for reducing health care costs and enhancing access to care.
We should instead adopt reforms that use patient choice and market forces to make health care less expensive. This includes permitting the sales of insurance policies across state lines and meaningful tort reform to eliminate the costs associated with defensive medicine. We should also expand the use of health savings accounts to control costs, but the President's health care law actually reduces the effectiveness of these important tools for consumers - yet another reason why the law must be scrapped so real reforms can help the American people.