Policy Watch: House Republicans vote to strip health care from millions

Yesterday, on President Trump’s 105th day in office, House Republicans approved a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act. President Trump celebrated the House passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and stated that he is confident that the measure will pass the Senate. Under the AHCA, 24 million Americans would lose their health insurance coverage. The majority (14 million) would lose coverage as the result of staggering cuts (almost $900 billion over the next decade) to the Medicaid program, which provides health care coverage to low-income Americans. An additional 7 million Americans would lose the coverage they get through their employer. In addition to taking coverage away from millions of Americans, the AHCA would have a significant impact on our nation’s overall economy. Large cuts to Medicaid and the subsidies for those buying health insurance on the ACA exchanges, combined with the AHCA’s tax cuts benefitting the top 1 percent of households, would be a drag on the economy and hurt job growth. Nationally, the job losses would reach 460,000 by 2020 and 1.8 million by 2022.

Earlier in the week, House Republicans voted in favor of legislation that would give employers the right to delay paying any wages for overtime work for as long as 13 months. The deceptively named “Working Families Flexibility Act” (H.R. 1180) would allow private-sector employers to “compensate” hourly workers with compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay. Contrary to proponents’ claims, the bill does not give employees the right to comp time, it takes away their right to overtime. The legislation forces workers to compromise their paychecks for the possibility—but not the guarantee—that they will get time off from work when they need it.

Senate Republicans were busy as well. They approved a resolution blocking a Department of Labor (DOL) rule that helped state governments create Individual Retirement Account (IRA) programs for private-sector workers. States have sought to establish initiatives requiring employers that do not offer a workplace retirement plan to automatically enroll workers in a payroll deduction IRAs administered by the state. President Trump has expressed his support for killing the rule that supports these state government savings initiatives, and is expected to sign the congressional resolution blocking it. By blocking the rule, Trump and congressional Republicans block a path for retirement savings for the roughly 55 million private-sector workers age 18-64 who do not have access to a retirement savings plan through their employers.

The House adjourned for an 11-day recess after passing the AHCA. The Senate will be back in session next week and Republican leadership will likely face questions on whether they will consider the AHCA. The Perkins Project Policy Watch will continue to track the Trump administration and Congress and provide information on how their actions impact on our nation’s workers.