By Doug G. Ware at UPI
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Affordable Care Act, which has made health insurance available to millions of Americans, will end up costing the domestic economy 2 million jobs over the next decade, a congressional advisory agency said Monday.
The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan group that provides information to lawmakers, said elements of the law will lead to fewer people employed because they no longer need work to receive health coverage.
"In that year, CBO estimates, the ACA will make the labor supply, measured as the total compensation paid to workers, 0.86 percent smaller than it would have been in the absence of that law," the CBO said in a report.
One factor for the decline, the 22-page report said, is that lower wage earners might choose to cut back hours or stop working altogether because such a move will no longer be accompanied by a loss in health coverage.
"The ACA's health insurance subsidies will make it easier for some people to work less or stop working without losing health insurance coverage," the agency said.
Another factor, the CBO said, is a potential loss of senior citizens in the workforce. Currently, it said, some seniors work beyond the retirement age to hold onto health coverage. Without that necessity, some of them may instead drop out of the workforce.
That would be a decline in the U.S. workforce by just less than 1 percent.
Some Republicans on Monday cited the report as proof that the ACA causes more harm than good.
"The CBO's latest report confirms yet another broken promise and negative consequence stemming from Obamacare," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said. "When the president's health law hurts the labor force at the same time it increases healthcare premiums and taxes, it's clear the law is not working for the American people."
The CBO, though, acknowledged that its estimates are partially based on unsubstantiated evidence related to the labor force.
While Obama has relentlessly defended the ACA, House Speaker Paul Ryanannounced last week that he plans to reveal a proposal next year to replace the controversial law.