Obamacare could force more than 2 million people to leave the work force or reduce their working hours over the next seven years, according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office.
"The bad consequences are worse than anybody anticipated," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said.
CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told the House Budget Committee Wednesday that the economic effects of Obamacare need more study, but that the program certainly is a factor in spending growth.
"Expansion of Medicaid and the institution of subsidies, these tax credits to be provided through exchanges, is part of what's pushing up federal health care spending," Elmendorf told the panel.
***James Sherk, a senior policy analyst in labor economics at the Heritage Foundation, talked more about the implications of the CBO report on CBN Newswatch, Feb. 5.
But House Democrats claimed the health law may actually do some short-term good and that the CBO report has been misrepresented.
"As the media themselves have confessed, they bought hook, line, and sinker some of the talking points from our Republican colleagues. And unfortunately, misrepresentations go around the world three times before the truth begins to catch up," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said. "But maybe it will begin to catch up at this point."
Job loss, however, is only one component of Republican concerns. The CBO report describes a tenfold increase in the federal debt between 1974 and 2024.
"Given these facts, what is driving -- just so people are clear -- what is driving the tenfold increase in the deficit?" House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan asked the CBO director.
"It's growth in spending for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, above all else driven by both the aging of the population, by an expansion of health insurance subsidies, and by rising costs of health care per person," Elmendorf replied.
The White House argued Tuesday that some people can spend more time with loved ones or find more diverse job opportunities.
"They're making a choice about their overall quality of life and perhaps pursuing something -- either a new entrepreneurial opportunity or a new job and they're choosing to spend more time with their family," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Although both parties will continue to debate the latest report, the fate of Obamacare will ultimately be decided by Americans whose health plans and their place in the work force are quickly changing.