Weekly Columns

Protecting Families from the Obamacare Trainwreck

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Washington, July 17, 2013 | Tiffany McGuffee (202-226-8072) | comments

“When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, this promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

This is an excerpt from a letter sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, but it didn’t come from Republican leadership or from conservatives concerned about the law. It came from the leaders of three of the largest U.S. labor unions: the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercials International Union and UNITE-HERE (the Union of Needle trades, Industrial and Textile Employees and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union).

The union leaders went on to say that their efforts to seek clarity regarding the health care law have been “met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies.” One of their main concerns is a perverse incentive to cut workers’ hours below 30 hours a week. This comes on the heels of Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius telling the Education and the Workforce Committee that the stories regarding employees losing jobs, wages and hours at work because of the health care law were merely “speculation.” She is wrong – the fallout from this law is all too real.

It’s reality for the Burger King franchisee in my district, Mike Clayton, who was forced to close his store in Mount Castle. Mike put a thank you note in my hometown paper, The Johnson City Press, thanking the people of the Tri-Cities area for 39 years of loyal business. When explaining his difficult decision, Mike said that politicians had “passed a law so unfriendly to business and workers that it forces the business to limit hard-working Americans to less hours and lower pay at a time of high unemployment and less opportunity for people to prevail.” Mr. Clayton underscored there is no “give by government to correct these unintended consequences” so his decision to close his store was greatly impacted by the lack of flexibility.

Other hardworking Americans like Mike are being forced every day to make tough decisions because of the unintended consequences of a flawed law. My Democratic colleagues have called Republicans’ tireless efforts to repeal this law childish and a waste of time, but they’re not. It’s not a waste of time when people like Mike Clayton and his employees have their very livelihoods on the line. It’s not a waste of time to the single mother who is now forced to work two part-time jobs at different fast-food restaurants just to break even because her hours were cut because of this law. These are real stories and real people, not speculation. And they deserve better.

Last week the administration announced that it would delay the employer mandate by one year. This decision does nothing to help the individuals that are still being forced to carry health insurance because of this law and there’s no way to guarantee it will reverse the damage that has already been done because of this law. This week the House will take action to delay both the employer and individual mandate. I look forward to seeing the same enthusiasm to protect families by delaying the individual mandate as we saw from President Obama when his administration took steps to protect businesses.

This delay is a step in the right direction towards protecting the American people from an economic catastrophe, but we can’t stop here. Obamacare is bad medicine for America, and the only cure is a full repeal.

Feel free to contact my office if we can be of assistance to you or your family. 
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