Sen. Collins pushes for change in Obamacare
August 3rd, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year ago

Sen. Collins pushes for change in Obamacare

(CNN) - While some Republican senators are calling for Congress to defund Obamacare altogether, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine used the GOP weekly address Saturday to call for an adjustment in the health care law, not a rejection of the law in its entirety.

Collins takes issue with the Affordable Care Act's characterization of a full-time employee as someone who works 30 hours a week.

The president's health care reform, which was passed by Congress in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court last year, will require businesses that employ at least 50 full-time workers to provide health insurance or face a penalty, starting in 2015. The provision was originally supposed to kick in next year, but the administration delayed it to give employers more time to prepare for the change.

Collins said the 30-hour mark for "full-time" employees will "only cause some businesses to reluctantly reduce the hours of their workers to fewer than 30 hours per week."

She gave an example of a school system in Maine that is already "preparing to track and cap the number of hours that substitute teachers can work to ensure that they don't work more than 29 hours a week."

"Fewer hours means less money in the teachers' paychecks and more disruption for their students," she added.

She introduced a bill, "Forty Hours is Full Time Act," in April that seeks to modify the federal definition of a full-time employee.

"Of course, fixing this one flaw 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," she said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney argued in a press briefing last month that there is no data to indicate businesses are not hiring full-time employees because of the 30-hour mark.

"I would say broadly that if you look at the economic data, the suggestion that the ACA is reducing full-time employment is belied by the facts," he said.

Read a transcript of the senator’s full remarks below:

“Hello. I’m Senator Susan Collins from Maine.

“My family founded a small business in northern Maine more than 160 years ago. Today, it continues to be run by two of my brothers.

“Our economy is built on millions of enterprises just like ours. 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.

“Effective health-care reform should provide Americans with access to quality and affordable care while also encouraging economic growth. That’s not what is happening under Obamacare.

“Instead, Obamacare is actually discouraging small businesses from creating jobs and hiring new employees. The law also has perverse incentives for employers to reduce the number of hours that their employees can work.

“While most small business owners want to provide health insurance for their employees, many simply cannot afford to under Obamacare. Yet, even struggling businesses with 50 or more “full-time” employees will be required to provide health insurance or face huge fines for each employee. If you employ 49 workers, there are no fines. But, if you add just one more employee, you’re hit with penalties.

“These enormous penalties are a real threat to employers who want to add jobs. They are a powerful incentive for employers to refrain from hiring additional workers. Even worse, under Obamacare, anyone working an average of just 30 hours a week is considered “full-time.” This will only cause some businesses to reluctantly reduce the hours of their workers to fewer than 30 hours per week.

“And, it’s not just the private sector that is affected. Let me give you an example. A school system in my state of Maine is already preparing to track and cap the number of hours that substitute teachers can work to ensure that they don’t work more than 29 hours a week. Fewer hours means less money in the teachers’ paychecks and more disruption for their students.

“Recently, labor leaders, led by Teamsters President James Hoffa, warned that Obamacare will – and I quote – destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class. – end quote -.

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

“Under this troubling trend, more workers will find their hours and their earnings reduced. Jobs will be lost. This is especially disturbing as our country is still battling high unemployment.

“A study published by the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, underscores the danger. That study found that 10 million American workers are vulnerable to having their hours cut as a direct result of Obamacare. 10 million workers! And the most vulnerable are lower-income employees.

“In an effort to protect these millions of workers, I’ve introduced a bipartisan bill called the “Forty Hours is Full Time Act.” My bill would change the definition of “full-time employee” in Obamacare from 30 hours a week to 40 hours a week. A 40-hour work week is full-time; we all know that. This bill is just common sense.

“Now, the Obama Administration has announced that it is delaying enforcement of the employer mandate until 2015. But, the fact is, the law remains in place and continues to discourage new jobs and full-time work.

“Of course, fixing this one flaw 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.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our nation’s economy. The last thing we need is yet another obstacle to helping them grow and create much-needed jobs.”


Filed under: Health care • Susan Collins
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. ejr1953

    These members of Congress who are trying to de-fund Obamacare are, for the most part, the biggest of all hypocrites. To my knowledge, all the bills that have passed the House have had specific language in the bills protecting the taxpayer-provided health insurance for the Members of Congress & their staff. I would challenge these hypocrites to go out into the "free market" and purchase health insurance with their own funds, without the discount they enjoy from being in a large group, and the taxpayer picking up about 75% of the cost; they would find (in the "good old days") how much it costs people in the "real world" to obtain coverage, and would also be horrified that the insurer could retroactively drop them (with "recision") when they got sick. Maybe if they had to experience the world the way people like me (who run a small business), they would be somewhat humble.

    The nerve of them to pass such bills, and protect their "government provided" coverage. Absolute hypocrites!

    August 4, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
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