All of us have been living with Obamacare for four years. First, it was the development of the bill, then it was Nancy Pelosi telling us we had to pass the bill to know what was in it, then it was the passing of the bill on a party line vote, and now it is trying to figure out how it affects us and the people around us.
Like others, we have been reading the variety of developments surrounding the bill. There is the touting of the frontloaded benefits. We have been reading about how state-by-state decisions have been made about statewide exchanges that mystify most of us. The rest of us wait until the bills come in the mail to see how the new law will change our costs. Some, like medical device manufacturers, have been fighting back to eliminate the tax that they say will cripple their industry and has already caused dislocation. Now the delay of the bill as the Obama-ites realize they have a disaster on their hands.
You may have read how certain companies have been cutting back on hours for their employees, preventing their employees from working the thirty hours a week that would require them to have employer-provided insurance. Somewhat like a car accident or a hurricane, you don’t expect things like this to affect you -- it only affects “those people over there.”
I have been going to same restaurant for lunch every Saturday for many years. I only miss it when I am out of town or during tax season (when I am typically in my office). I sit at the bar where there are two TVs, offering options for multiple sporting events. I spend time speaking to all the staff -- every manager knows me well. It is truly my neighborhood place. For a long time (about five years), the same man has worked the bar shift. We have created quite a relationship. I even call him to let him know if I am not going to be there. Otherwise, come noon on Saturday there I am. I may have a friend in tow or a kid, but I am there. We talk sports, movies and about our families.
When I returned from our post-tax season vacation, I went for my Saturday lunch -- excited to tell my friend about the trip. He is always anxious to see pictures. Only this time I got to the restaurant, and he was not there. I find out he is no longer working the shift. To say the least I was disappointed. Later that week, we went to the same restaurant for dinner. My friend was working and I discussed the matter with him and a manager. His hours had been cut back to avoid the new Obamacare rule. He had to choose the best shifts, and my shift lost out.
My friend, the bartender, is a grown man in his forties of Hispanic heritage. He has a wife and children, and he has to support them. With his now-restricted hours, he will not have enough income coming in to take care of them.
Someone who supports Obamacare might say it is the fault of the employer. The employer should provide the insurance to their employees. Even with a stripped-down insurance plan for his family, it would cost over $1,000 per month. That would mean the sandwich which now costs $12 will become $15. The meal that costs $19 will now cost $23. It is easy for supporters to say customers will pay, but the reality is we will see significant reductions in customer trips and a huge loss of jobs.
Now my friend is on a hunt to find a second job. He will have to balance demands between two employers and will probably end up spending less time with his family. He will also end up working more hours, thereby helping to freeze out someone else from getting a position. We will become more of a part-time employment country simply because some attorney working for a Congressional committee came up with 30 hours as being a full-time employee. Because laws are written in black and white, this one choice has dislocated millions of Americans. I am sure that the writers of Obamacare never anticipated this backlash. They thought we would all fall in line like the Jews following Moses with the Ten Commandments.
Congresswoman Pelosi stated we would have to pass the bill to learn what is in it. This was an aspect of the bill not clearly stated and fortunately some groups are working on changing this portion of the law to make 40 hours determine a full-time employment. In the meantime, the small print of this area of the bill is just one more thing that is killing the American job market, and the good intentions of supporters have turned into an albatross for many Americans. The only question that remains -- when will the ill-effects of Obamacare impact you?