ObamaCare

By David Morgan and David Lawder
WASHINGTON Tue Feb 4, 2014 3:08pm EST

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s healthcare law will reduce American workforce participation by the equivalent of 2 million full-time jobs in 2017, the Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday, prompting Republicans to paint the law as bad medicine for the U.S. economy.

In its latest U.S. fiscal outlook, the nonpartisan CBO said the health law would lead some workers, particularly those with lower incomes, to limit their hours to avoid losing federal subsidies that Obamacare provides to help pay for health insurance and other healthcare costs.

The biggest impact would begin in 2017, CBO said, because major provisions of the law will be well under way by then. The CBO said there would be smaller declines in work hours that would occur before then.

Work hours would be reduced by the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs in 2024, said the agency, which earlier predicted 800,000 fewer fulltime jobs by 2021. The bottom line would be a slower rate of growth for employment and compensation in the coming decade, according to the report.

The link that the CBO drew between the health law and slower employment growth is likely to become fodder for partisan attacks in this year’s congressional election battle, which will determine who controls Congress in the final years of the Obama presidency. Obamacare is unpopular with many voters and its botched October rollout was accompanied by a public outcry by millions of people who saw their health plans cancelled as a result of its implementation.

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