Amid ongoing problems with the Affordable Care Act's new online insurance marketplaces, President Obama on Wednesday defended the law's economic impact, refuting claims that it's hurting workers.
In an interview with Richmond, Va., CBS affiliate WTVR, the president pushed back against the claim the health care law is increasing premiums and discouraging full-time job growth.
"We've seen since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, premiums have increased, employers like the University of Virginia have dropped spousal support from health care," WTVR's Tracy Sears said to the president. "We've seen companies like Home Depot, community colleges have taken full-time staff and made them part time instead. Were these anticipated consequences?"
The president noted that economic trends tell a different story. Premiums, he pointed out, are still rising but at a slower rate than at any time in the last 50 years.
"A lot of this stuff has been happening for the last several years, that doesn't have to do with the Affordable Care Act," he said. "The problem that we've had for a long time is that employers have found health care costs really burdensome, they've been loading off costs onto workers for a very long time, the only thing the Affordable Care Act has done is to create a marketplace -- essentially a group plan -- a pool for people who don't have employer-based health care."
Open enrollment began this month on the online, state-based marketplaces where the uninsured can shop for coverage. Technical problems continue to plague the marketplaces (called exchanges), including the federally-run exchange website Healthcare.gov that serves 36 states.
Some companies have said this year that they are cutting their part-time workers' hours to save money under the employer mandate -- an Obamacare requirement that was, in fact,. Home Depot and some other companies, meanwhile, ended health coverage for some part-time workers since they can now find coverage on the exchange system. Partisans on both the left and the right tried to spin Home Depot's decision as either good or bad news.
In areleased by Duke University/CFO Magazine last month, nearly 60 percent of chief financial officers said they have increased the number of part-time and contract workers they are using. More than a third of those CFO's attributed this to Obamacare, but 44 percent said it was the result of extreme economic uncertainty. The survey also found that the CFO's also expect hiring conditions for full-time workers to improve this year.