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Web letter by Don Hobbs: Affordable Care Act’s hours limit unfair, avoidable

There is a valid concern for employees working more than 30 hours a week but fewer than 40 hours having their hours cut and commensurately their incomes for their employers to avoid the 30-hour mandate of the Affordable Care Act. As a possible solution, Sen. Joe Donnelly is suggesting that Affordable Care Act be amended to designate 40 hours as the criterion.

I do not agree. While this may please private business owners as well as public budget administrators and, more importantly, take away the motivation for them to cut part-time workers’ hours, it is not the panacea. If you accept that there are no free lunches, it only passes the tab across the table.

So why did the Affordable Care Act invoke the 30-hour mandate? The logical and rather obvious explanation is that the intent was to require these organizations, public and private, to absorb the cost of insuring these “part-time” employees.

Until the Affordable Care Act and some investment analysis I did regarding the restaurant business, it never occurred to me the number of hard-working fellow America I interact with every day who do not have health insurance coverage. When you are out and about shopping, having lunch or making a personal purchase, there is a good chance you are interacting with part-time uninsured employees; there is a good chance you may be one.

If you accept the premise (as surveys indicate most of us do) that, as a nation, we want to have affordable health insurance for all our citizens, there will be an associated cost. So it becomes a matter of who should pick up the tab. In the case of education budgeting for part-time employee insurance, it is going to be we the taxpayers – whether it comes from federal taxes or state taxes (property taxes, et. al). In the private sector, it will come from either the company’s coffers, higher prices or our taxes.

The 30-hour mandate was poorly conceived. Our politicians should be passing bills that require businesses, private or public, to provide health insurance for their payroll employees, regardless of the hours scheduled. Since it will be a business expense, the expense should be deductible for tax purposes in the private sector.

DON HOBBS

Fort Wayne

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