National Consumers League

The Affordable Care Act is not harming the job market

karinb.jpgDespite dire predictions to the contrary by Obamacare opponents, three recent studies have found that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hasn’t hurt the labor market. Critics claimed massive numbers of workers would be moved from full-time to part-time jobs to avoid the cost of the employer mandate on health insurance. Critics also warned that people might choose to work less because they could either get health insurance on the exchanges or qualify under expanded Medicaid coverage.  

None of those scenarios is playing out. There’s no significant increase in part-time jobs, nor significant shifts in employment patterns in states with expanded Medicaid programs. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality data shows no increase in the likelihood of working part-time after the employer coverage mandate went into effect in 2015. On Medicaid expansion, while one of the studies published in Health Affairs found that people were about 0.6 percentage points more likely to leave a job in the states that expanded Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, the difference is not statistically significant. Not only that, but we now have Obamacare firmly in place and the economy is booming.

Throughout NCL’s history, our leaders have called for universal health insurance, and we, and many other supporters are vindicated by these findings. Turns out providing health insurance for all may be good for the economy and can even help create jobs. The President noted in his State of the Union on Tuesday: “It’s about filling the gaps in employer based care so that when you lose a job, or you go back to school, or you strike out and launch that new business, you’ll still have coverage. Nearly 18 million people have gained coverage so far, and in the process health care inflation has slowed, our businesses have created jobs every single month since it became law.” 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there has been “unprecedented demand” for Marketplace coverage with more than 11.3 million people signed up for coverage through January 2, 2016. Open Enrollment ends on January 31.

Sadly, the Affordable Care Act continues to come under attack by the Republican-led Congress. On January 6, yet again, the House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal the ACA. The Senate had passed the same bill last month. Noting the harm the bill “would cause to the health and financial security of millions of Americans,” President Obama vetoed it. The House will vote to override the veto on January 26, but is expected to fall far short of the 2/3 vote necessary for a veto override.

While the fight over the ACA continues, this news should take the wind out of the sails of hardened Obamacare opponents. In the meantime, the National Consumers League will continue to work with its allies in the advocacy arena to preserve this landmark piece of legislation that–at last–ensures essential health coverage for millions of people. This is truly President Obama’s crowning achievement and one that NCL had been working for since our founding in 1899.