Two Day A Week Congress Wants You To Have To Work 40 Hours A Week To Qualify For Insurance

The presumed leaders of the two houses of the next Congress didn’t waste a moment before penning an op-ed in the conservative Wall Street Journal. In it, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) and House Speaker John Boehner (R) announced their aim to repeal Obamacare, brick by brick – beginning with eliminating benefits for people who work 30 hours a week.

Like Clean Skies, Clean Coal and Right to Work, their oxymoronic explanation was that their tweak would provide Americans with “more hours and better pay,” by raising the work requirement to 40 hours to qualify for benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

I will call their claim the Papa John’s effect because the pizza chain’s CEO, John Schnatter, threatened to cut hours and layoff in order avoid paying for insurance.

Of course, like many restaurants, many of Papa John’s employees already worked too few hours to qualify, even under the 30 hour rule. It’s difficult to imagine that he’d suddenly begin giving employees more hours if the threshold were raised to 40 hours and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities agrees.

Essentially, they say, about 44 percent of employees work right at that 40 hour line. If the insurance mandate is raised to 40 hours, it’s not difficult to imagine that employers might make sure employees never work more than 39 hours. Also, they note, there’s almost no evidence that the Affordable Care Act has resulted in layoffs or in hours being cut.

in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 10.2 million workers notching 30 to 34 hours a week, or 7.4% of the workforce; that’s the class most vulnerable to having their work hours shaved to become ineligible for coverage.

But there were 60.9 million Americans working exactly 40 hours — 43.8% of all workers. It wouldn’t take much to cut many of them to 39 hours or below, thus taking them out of the protection of the Affordable Care Act. And of course all those people already working 30 to 39 hours a week–about 20 million more–would still be excluded from coverage.

Source: LA Times

The greatest irony of all in their proposal is that Congress currently works about two days a week. It’s doubtful that will change under the Republican leadership. Perhaps we should make them ineligible for insurance?