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Obamacare is a loser for everyone, not just Democratic politicians

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Opinion,Op-Eds,Barack Obama,Obamacare,CBO,Insurance Industry

In politics, pundits are eager to pick winners and losers. If one interest group is winning, then another must be losing. The lone exception might be Obamacare, which to date looks like a loser for just about everyone.

For workers, Obamacare has led to new questions about their coverage and new reductions in their paychecks. Our nation’s workers were famously promised by President Obama that “if you like your plan, you can keep it.” Only after the law’s enactment date did the truth come out, and millions of American workers received notices that their health plans were to be cancelled.

On top of coping with challenges in their health coverage, many part-time workers are now facing fewer hours and smaller paychecks thanks to some of the law's unintended consequences. Last month, the New York Times reported that state and local officials around the country were conceding that Obamacare provisions were leading them to limit or reduce the hours of their part-time workers.

In Medina, Ohio, a small town south of Cleveland, the city’s part-time employees saw their weekly hours drop from 35 to 29. These 120 workers include office clerks, sanitation workers and police dispatchers. Instead of getting health coverage, the law is leaving them with smaller paychecks.

For businesses, Obamacare is making it more difficult and more expensive to provide health coverage for their employees. A report released last month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that nearly two-thirds of small businesses providing coverage to their employees will see their premiums increase.

These increased costs for small businesses come on top of sustained and dramatic hikes they have already experience in the past five years. A National Small Business Administration poll last month found that 96 percent of small businesses say their premiums have increased since 2009, with the average monthly insurance cost raising from $590 per employee to $1,121 today.

Taxpayers are also poised to be big losers under Obamacare. The law created new taxpayer-funded co-ops that were intended to offer consumers more affordable options. Instead, in many states these co-ops have failed to be competitive with other plans, and enrollment has dwindled. Should these co-ops fail, taxpayers may be on the hook for almost $1 billion in defaulted loans.

Then again, that $1 billion is small change next to the hefty tax burden included in the Obamacare legislation. This might explain why the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that the new law will cause 2.5 million people to leave their jobs and will increase our budget deficit by $1 trillion over the next ten years.

Those in the health care and insurance communities are also struggling under the new law. As a businesswoman in the insurance industry who started a small business with three people and one office, and 10 years later had 158 employees and eight regional offices around the country, I have great appreciation for the men and women who serve in this capacity and work to set fair guidelines, prices and rates. They are the glue that helps keep our health care system together.

To do this, they must begin by relying on concrete regulations. But rather than give them a clear path forward, Obamacare has led to a lot of U-turns and dead ends. Since the law was passed, President Obama has gone back and changed it 29 times. This creates a nearly impossible challenge for those tasked with building rate structures and ensuring a fair and useful system.

Over the course of this year, many will debate the political significance of Obamacare, questioning whether it’s a "loser" for Democrats or a "winner" for Republicans. That question pales in significance to the larger issue at stake -- that this law thus far has been a loser for the entire country.

Sharon Day is co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions for editorials, available at this link.
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