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The Impact of Employer Responsibility Under the Affordable Care Act (Congressional Testimony)

Testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census, and the National Archives

SOURCE: AP/Lucy Pemoni

Debi Halcro, president of Valenti Print Group in the company's printing area, had 43 workers in 2009 but limited the hours of her three part-time workers so she didn't have to pay for their health insurance. With the Affordable Care Act, Congress carefully targeted employer responsibility so that it only applies to small businesses with more than 50 employees.

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CAP Managing Director of Health Policy testifies before the Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census, and the National Archives: Read this testimony (CAP Action)

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Davis, and members of the committee—thank you for the opportunity to testify today about employer responsibility under the Affordable Care Act and the act’s impact on temporary workers and their employers. My name is Topher Spiro, and I am the Managing Director of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, which promotes effective implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Today’s hearing focuses on an important issue, as temporary staffing firms employ about 10 million workers each year. My testimony is organized into three parts. First, I will describe the broad benefits to temporary workers and their employers under the Affordable Care Act. Then, I will explain the purpose and design of employer responsibility under the Affordable Care Act. My testimony will close with observations of how employer responsibility is practical and flexible for temporary workers and their employers.

Benefits to temporary workers and their employers

Starting in 2014, all Americans will have access to affordable health insurance. As Carl T. Camden, president and CEO of Kelly Services, Inc.—one of the largest employers of temporary workers—has observed, the Affordable Care Act “will create long-overdue opportunity for non-traditional workers to access affordable health care.” Mr. Camden explains how the Affordable Care Act benefits temporary workers and their employers better than I could, so I will quote him at length:

The United States remains the only advanced nation in which individuals lack access to affordable group health coverage outside the employment setting. As a result, health insurance-related ‘job lock’ afflicts millions, which is bad for entrepreneurship, worse for economic dynamism, and frustrating for an industry that relies on a free-agent workforce. Simply put, non-traditional workers are treated badly by the current model…Any policy choice that enhances the availability and mobility of talent is a good thing for the staffing industry and the economy as a whole.

As Mr. Camden observes, access to affordable health insurance will benefit not only workers, but also their employers. Preventive care will reduce absenteeism and increase the productivity of workers. Health care costs for the uninsured will no longer be shifted onto employers that do offer coverage through higher premiums. And for staffing firms, millions of newly insured Americans seeking health care will create demand for health care workers.

In addition to these economic benefits, on a more human level, many temporary workers—who work long, hard hours but may be struggling to pay the bills and cannot afford health insurance, through no fault of their own—will not lay awake at night out of fear that a family member will suddenly become sick, sending the family over the edge into bankruptcy.

CAP Managing Director of Health Policy testifies before the Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census, and the National Archives: Read this testimony (CAP Action)

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