CBO: Health law will result in fewer hours worked

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 21, 2011

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Republicans in Congress, continuing their campaign against the national health reform law, cited Feb. 10 testimony from the head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as evidence that the law will eliminate nearly a million jobs in America during the next decade. However, Democrats said Republicans were not telling the full story behind the estimate.

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf, PhD, said at a House Budget Committee hearing on the economy that the law is expected to reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by about 0.5% between 2011 and 2021. The CBO estimates 160 million people will be working in 2021, so a 0.5% decrease is equal to a net loss of 800,000 full-time jobs.

But the estimate, originally published in an August 2010 CBO report on the nation's long-term economic outlook, concludes that the reduction in hours worked would result primarily from Americans opting to work less because they no longer would need to rely on their jobs to provide health coverage. Many would gain coverage from the law's Medicaid eligibility expansion or new plans offered in health insurance exchanges.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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