The Los Angeles Times published an article today about employers cutting back on part-time workers’ hours to skirt Obamacare demands. The admission of “Health law’s nasty side”—as the newspaper’s tweet about the story reads—illuminates the cracks in the media’s previously cozy relationship with the new healthcare law.
As the full implementation of Obamacare nears, the realities of the law are becoming more apparent, including higher premiums, reduced hours, and decreased pay. As a result, the media’s tone is starting to change. According to a Wall Street Journal article by Daniel Kessler, “the allure of the David-versus-Goliath narrative is likely to prove irresistible to the media.”
This time the role of David is played by part-time employees of the city of Long Beach, whose work hours have been limited to fewer than 27 per week, so that the city will not have to provide them health insurance. Under Obamacare, large employers must provide healthcare coverage for anyone working 30 hours or more.
Long Beach city officials told the LA Times that unless they cut part-time hours, the new health benefits would cost up to $2 million more next year and could trigger layoffs or cuts in city services.
Other large retailers also have followed that path because “it’s the only way to survive economically,” Bill Dombrowski of the California Retailer’s Association told the newspaper. A University of California, Berkeley study found that an estimated 2.3 million workers nationwide could lose hours because of the healthcare law.
This is not the first time the liberal paper has pointed out the pitfalls of Obamacare. In March it noted that in California, middle-income residents who are self-insured will see a 30 percent rise in their premiums. This includes individuals making more than $46,000 and families making more than $94,000 a year. Younger people also will see higher premiums to help pay for older consumers.
Last month, the paper also acknowledged the healthcare law could cause the closure of small to mid-sized hospitals—which means thousands of layoffs—as health insurers create smaller networks of medical providers to keep down costs and give employers and consumers more affordable healthcare options.
Jim Lott, executive vice president of the Hospital Assn. of Southern California, told the LA Times: "[W]e are forecasting for hospital closures because of the changes brought about by the implementation of Obamacare."
As more consequences continue to roll out, Americans are becoming more wary about the law: Last month support for Obamacare dipped to 35 percent.
Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote in the LA Times in March: “Virtually all of these problems and many others were predicted by conservatives, but the media rolled their collective eyes in response. The Iraq War justifiably led to a lot of media soul-searching about how journalists were too credulous of the Bush administration's arguments. A similar discussion about how we got stuck in the Obamacare quagmire seems long overdue.”