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CBO: Obamacare will free equivalent of 2 million workers to pursue own path

HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius at the State of the Union address. A CBO report shows that Obamacare is achieving one of its essential goals: freeing workers to pursue their own path, because they are no longer bound to hated jobs tied to health insurance.
HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius at the State of the Union address. A CBO report shows that Obamacare is achieving one of its essential goals: freeing workers to pursue their own path, because they are no longer bound to hated jobs tied to health insurance.
© 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There they go again. Misleading - or outright lying - in order to discredit Obamacare.

The report from the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) did not say that Obamacare would depress jobs creation by 2 million jobs. What it said was that as a result of people no longer being indentured to employers and jobs they hated, that kept them from spending more time with their children or starting their own businesses, that they would be free to choose their career path.

It also frees people to retire earlier - say at 62 instead of 65 - which will unleash opportunities for younger workers.

This is because so many workers were trapped in jobs because they were in desperate fear of losing health insurance, possibly not being able to get it elsewhere because of a preexisting condition or because it was not affordable.

And ultimately, eliminating the "full time equivalent" of 2 million workers means that labor will be scarcer, and that will finally push up wages which have been stagnant for years.

But Republicans, who have rejected every single jobs-creation measure proposed by Obama (The America Jobs Act, tax credits for small businesses that hire, investment in infrastructure), all of a sudden are upset, upset I say, over the loss of the "full time equivalent" of 2 million workers.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recast the CBO findings. He claimed (dishonestly) that this was proof that Obamacare is a jobs-killer, as if it would reduce hiring by 2 million jobs, as opposed to workers voluntarily giving up the equivalent hours of labor.

This is another lie the Republicans are propagating, much in the same vein as the mythical "death panels": that the Affordable Care Act is somehow inhibiting hiring.

The report said just the opposite. And this is measurable.

Jay Carney, White House spokesman, explains:

"Since the Affordable Care Act passed into law in March 2010 the private sector has added 8.1 million jobs. That is the strongest 45 month job growth since the late 1990s and contrasts with the 3.8 million private sector jobs lost in the decade before the Affordable Care Act passed.

"Claims that the Affordable Care Act hurts jobs are simply belied by the facts in the CBO report. CBO’s findings are not driven by an assumption that ACA will lead employers to eliminate jobs or reduce hours, in fact, the report itself says that there is 'no compelling evidence that part-time employment has increased as a result of the ACA.'

"While many factors affect job growth, the actual performance of businesses refutes those who predicted that the Affordable Care Act would dramatically hurt the economy.

"What the CBO report does find is one key immediate effect of the Affordable Care Act is to “induce some employers to hire more workers or to increase the hours of current employees” during the 2014-16 period. Over the longer run, CBO finds that because of this law, individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods, like retiring on time rather than working into their elderly years or choosing to spend more time with their families. At the beginning of this year, we noted that as part of this new day in health care, Americans would no longer be trapped in a job just to provide coverage for their families, and would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. This CBO report bears that out, and the Republican plan to repeal the ACA would strip those hard-working Americans of that opportunity.

"In addition, the CBO itself confirms that this analysis of the implications of the ACA on the labor force is incomplete, does not take into account the impact that ACA’s slowing health care cost growth which experts have estimated that slower growth in health costs due to the ACA will cause the economy to add an additional 250,000 to 400,000 jobs per year by the end of the decade. Moreover, CBO does not take into account positive impacts on worker productivity due to the ACA’s role in improving workers’ health, including reduced absenteeism.

"Finally, as it has since the enactment of the ACA, CBO continues to confirm that the ACA is projected to reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next two decades."

Here's another lie the Republicans are propagating, much in the same vein as the mythical "death panels": that Obamacare provides for a bailout of health insurance companies.

That is not true.

What it provides for is a "risk corridor" for the next three years so that the health care reform can be in place and insurers have a better handle on what premiums to charge.

The Risk corridor - which is similar to what was part of the Medicare D (Prescription Drug) program pushed through by Republicans and signed by George W. Bush - provides for a floor and a ceiling to what health insurance companies can profit or lose.

In the case of Obamacare, the risk corridor is for three years and provides for a floor and a ceiling. In the case of the risk corridor in Medicare Part D (which was written by Big Pharma and prohibits the federal government from negotiating volume discounts), it is open ended and only provides for a floor, not a ceiling on Big Pharma profits. Don't think I am hearing any outcry from Republicans on that.

As it is, the CBO reported that the government stands to gain $8 billion under this program for Obamacare - take it away and that $8 billion would be lost.

Here's another lie that was made by none other than. in that high-profile Official Republican Response to the State of the Union, when Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers told to the nation about “Bette in Spokane” facing a premium increase of “nearly $700” under the Affordable Care Act.

That was a lie - as were just about all the "horror stories" that Republicans claimed to care so much about (as if they cared about the 5 million who are prevented from access to Medicaid because of Republican Governors refusing to sign on).

As it turns out, "Bette in Spokane" had only a "junk" policy - that had a $10,000 deductible. And the $700 higher premium was the one offered by the same junk insurance company. She never bothered to check what was available through the Obamacare health exchanges at healthcare.gov where she could have found cheaper plans but as a matter of political spite, refused to.

"So this wasn’t sticker shock, at least as described," New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote. "This was someone finding out that the ACA requires that you have a minimum level of insurance, and that minimalist plans are no longer allowed — and it was also Ms. Rodgers misrepresenting what had happened.

"Oh, and why isn’t catastrophic coverage only allowed? For the same reason we have a coverage mandate in the first place: everyone has to be in the risk pool. If you’re allowed to have insurance that barely covers anything, that’s almost the same as not participating at all."

Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
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