Veteran Obamacare Fix Adds $900 Million to Deficit
Policy + Politics

Veteran Obamacare Fix Adds $900 Million to Deficit

REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have miraculously come to an agreement on one Obamacare fix—but it comes at a cost.

The Congressional Budget Office crunched the numbers on the “Hire More Heroes Act”--which exempts working veterans from the health law’s employer mandate—and found that it would add nearly $900 million to the deficit.

Right now, Obamacare’s employer mandate requires companies with 50 or more full-time employees to offer coverage to all of their full-time workers or pay a stiff penalty. The money collected from the penalty, originally estimated at $151 billion over ten years,  goes toward funding the health care law.

Related: Obamacare Penalty: 4 Things You Don’t Know

This bill exempts full-time working veterans who have health insurance through the Veterans Affairs department or TRICARE from being counted in the total number of full-time employees when determining if businesses should be subject to the employer mandate. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say it’s an important tweak that will incentivize more businesses to hire veterans.

However, approving the exemption would mean that fewer businesses would be subject to penalties enforced under the employer mandate, resulting in a significant reduction in collected revenue.

Still, the bill has received bipartisan support—soaring through the Senate Finance Committee 26-0 after being approved by the House last month. It’s poised to be the first piece of Obamacare legislation to reach the president’s desk. 

Related: New GOP Congress Develops Alternate Health Plans

Meanwhile, other Obamacare measures aren’t faring as well. The White House has already vowed to immediately veto a Republican bill proposing to increase the definition of full-time workers under the law’s employer mandate from employees logging 30 hours a week to 40 hours.

Republican sponsors of the measure say the law’s current full-time definition incentivizes employers to reduce worker hours to 29 hours or less to avoid facing the employer mandate which took effect at the beginning of the year.  The CBO, however, said there is no evidence as yet of that happening. 

A bipartisan proposal to do away with Obamacare’s medical device tax is also unlikely to survive the president’s veto pen.

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