KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

CBO Findings On How The Health Law Will Impact The Workforce Become Flashpoint

During a House Budget Committee hearing, and also across the Capitol and on social media and the airwaves, Democrats and Republicans sparred over the Congressional Budget Office report released this week.   

The Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Spar Over CBO's U.S. Health-Law Findings
Republicans at a House Budget Committee hearing said the report, released Tuesday, shows the health law will drive people out of the work force. Democrats countered that the report shows the law will give workers flexibility to leave jobs they are locked into because of health-care benefits. The sparring came in response to a Congressional Budget Office analysis concluding that subsidies in the law, combined with easier access to health care, would create incentives for many Americans to cut their work hours, leading to a net reduction of 1.5% to 2% from 2017 through 2024 (Paletta, 2/5).

McClatchy: Obamacare: The Political Issue That Keeps On Giving
Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday engaged in a fierce brawl to define what the Affordable Care Act means to consumers – making it clear that Americans’ qualms about the law will remain a volatile issue throughout the election year. Top officials from the two parties clashed in the House Budget Committee, on social media and in states with hot political races. They relentlessly attempted to put their own spin on a Tuesday report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which estimated that the law will cause people to voluntarily work less (Lightman, 2/5).

NBC News: Democrats Mount Affordable Care Act Counteroffensive
Democrats waged a counteroffensive Wednesday after the Congressional Budget Office found that the health care overhaul will reduce hours worked and cause a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.5 million in 2024. At a House Budget Committee hearing where CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said the health insurance subsidies in the Affordable Care Act will create “a disincentive for people to work,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the panel, defended the law. By providing insurance that’s not tied to a job, it “allows Americans to choose to spend more time with their family or pursue their dreams. And that is not a bad thing; it is a good thing,” he said (Curry, 2/6).

CBS News: Democrats Defend Obamacare’s Impact On Economy
The Affordable Care Act will shrink the workforce by the equivalent of 2 million full-time workers by 2017, according to a nonpartisan report, but Democrats on Wednesday stressed the fact that it will not increase unemployment -- in fact, the health law is expected to grow the economy and boost the demand for labor over the next few years. “I just want it to be very clear that the director of the Congressional Budget Office says for this year and the next couple years, actually, it will help reduce unemployment,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said in a hearing. “More people who are looking for work will find work as a result of the Affordable Care Act.” Congressional Budget Office chief Doug Elmendorf confirmed that over a 10-year window, the Affordable Care Act is expected to reduce national deficits and consequently lead to stronger growth (Condon, 2/5).

Fox News: ObamaCare Job Loss Report Turbocharges Twitter; Sen. Roberts Asks ‘Were The Books Cooked?’
The CBO predicts nearly 2.5 million workers could opt out of the work force to stay eligible for Medicaid and other federal subsidies -- resulting in the loss of 2.3 million jobs. GOP brass hopped on the report like frogs on a lily pad, and the “I told you so’s” reverberated into the far corners of the Twitterverse. Late Tuesday night, Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts tweeted that he wants the CBO to explain itself … in Congress. He took to the Senate floor earlier in the day to demand the Senate Finance Committee hold a hearing to investigate conflicting CBO reports (Ashburn, 2/5).

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