Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 2575, House Republicans' 52nd attempt to undermine or repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the House will be voting on tomorrow. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
"The previous speaker said that people were going to be forced to reduce hours. [Under this Republican bill] they'll only be forced to reduce it from 40 to 39 as opposed to 30 to 29. In other words, if you work thirty-nine hours a week you [would be considered part-time and] won't have to be covered. You won't have to have health care insurance. And somebody else will pay their bill. Maybe Medicaid, depending on how much they make. Maybe all of us will pay that extra $1,000 in our premiums so the uninsured can be funded. Or maybe the other employers who do, in fact, believe that it is good to offer their employees health insurance even though they only work thirty-nine hours a week. Somebody else will pay the bill. That's what's been happening, of course, with employers that don't provide health care insurance. The competitors that do are in an unfair position.
"Why did we choose thirty hours a week? We chose thirty hours a week, Mr. Speaker, because in surveying the private sector employment field, we found that twenty-nine hours was perceived to be the litmus test for twenty-nine hours or less being part time. So we picked thirty hours, which was more than the average in the private sector. But now we have a bill that's the fifty-second vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, this obsession with undermining the access to affordable, quality health care by the American people.
"This bill changes the definition of full-time employee in a way that would make approximately one million Americans lose their employer-sponsored coverage. Do we care? Do one million Americans make a difference to us? Do one million Americans not having the availability of the assurance that they and their families have health coverage -- does that matter to us? Or are they all part of the '47%' who aren't going to vote for some of us anyway, the proposition is, so why worry about them?
"In addition, it would increase the number of uninsured by as many as half a million people, and it would increase the deficit by $74 billion. A million people lose their employer-sponsored care. Half a million people would continue to be uninsured, and $74 billion loss in revenues. Mr. Speaker, this is because the legislation provides an incentive ...'to redefine work hours so that more employees will be categorized as part time' [Source: Congressional Budget Office].
"In other words, [under this bill], you work in the United States of America thirty-nine hours and you're part time. Under this bill, more than five times as many workers will be put at risk of having their employers just slightly reduce their hours to avoid providing them with health insurance. That is a change that subverts the goals of the Affordable Care Act, and it's not going to help grow our economy either. But more importantly, it subverts the quality of life, the confidence, the assurance, if you will, of millions of Americans.
"Mr. Speaker, I urge the defeat of this legislation. I urge us to confirm the fact that we believe Americans, in the richest country on the face of the Earth, ought to have access to affordable, quality health care and that everybody would participate in that objective."