The Republican-led House of Representatives took the first swipe at weakening Obamacare Thursday, when it voted 252-to-172 to raise the definition of a full-time workweek to 40 hours.
The 40-hour workweek bill aims to ease health insurance requirements for employers under the Affordable Care Act, which currently defines full-time as 30 hours per week.
According to MSN, only 12 Democrats joined Republicans in backing the measure, which will allow businesses to offer health insurance to fewer workers by raising the minimum hours worked at which employers are required to provide insurance for workers.
Congressional aides and lobbyists said the 40-hour workweek bill was chosen as the initial assault on the health care law by Republican leaders because they believe they can attract enough support from House and Senate Democrats to pressure the president into signing it.
President Obama, however, has already said that he would veto the bill if it passed.
The “40-hour fix,” which the Inquistr reported has been a goal of Republican leaders for quite some time, has drawn fire from many unions.
The AFL-CIO, in fact, supports lowering the minimum hours required for a full-time workweek to 20 in an attempt to protect full-time workers from seeing their hours reduced.
“There has been frustration with the 30-hour threshold and with people losing hours,” said AFL-CIO health care lobbyist Tom Leibfried. “What labor would like is a stronger set of employer responsibility requirements.”
Under the current health care law, businesses with more than 50 full-time employees are required to provide health insurance benefits to those who work 30 or more hours a week. Republicans claim that the current law is a burden on job creators, and that it hurts lower wage workers by giving employers an incentive to lower their hours in order to avoid the mandate. Supporters of the new bill claim that most 40-hour employees already have health insurance.
Democrats maintain that the bill, if it becomes law, will hurt more workers than the current law because most employers can easily decrease current 40-hour workers to 39 hours without a major cut in productivity – thereby avoiding the health insurance mandate altogether. This will increase the federal deficit by $53 million over the next 10 years by forcing more Americans to go on government-sponsored health insurance.
Opponents of raising the full-time workweek minimum also argue that it will increase the number of uninsured, especially among lower middle-class Americans who, by having that one hour cut from their workweek, will lose insurance benefits but still make too much money to qualify for free or subsidized insurance through ACA marketplaces.
The Senate vote on the bill has not been scheduled yet, and according to NBC News, will not likely happen until after the vote on the XL Keystone pipeline, which is expected sometime around the end of January.
Do you think the 40-hour workweek bill is a good idea? How do you think it will affect your job and health benefits?
[Image via Fox News]