Reuters ostensibly a news agency has crossed the line between reporting the news and policy advocacy. The August 14th story US schools face tough decisions on obamacare benefits by Yasmeen Abutaleb sounds like it could have been written by the White House. We can see slant of the story in the title itself with the word “benefits” added after obamacare. It gives the reader the sense that the law is wholly good with no unintended consequences.
In the first paragraph Abutaleb tells us that ” school boards are looking to avoid providing health benefits.” They are doing this by making many employees part time. This gives the impression that the issue is school districts being stingy with their money and not the fact that the affordable care act adds massive costs onto all employers. She then goes onto say that school boards are already struggling to manage after years of budget cuts. This is meant to shift blame of schools cutting workers hours away from the President.
Budget cuts can’t be that much of a factor however. The OECD reported that the US spends $15,171 per student, more than any other nation. As a share of the economy the US spent more than the average country, spending 7.3% of GDP vs 6.3% average. American schools are not underfunded. The problem is with the law, as Abutaleb reports most school employees were not receiving health coverage from their employer but now are mandated to receive coverage. The superintendent of Pennsylvania’s Penn Manor School district said “this is absolutely the worst time for school districts to be faced with mandated (health) increases.”
Abutaleb next goes on to quote a White House official as saying “we are seeing no systematic evidence that the affordable care act is leading to a shift to part time work…there are a variety of factors impacting schools including sequestration, which is cutting budgets and is a completely separate issue.” So we are to believe that a law that mandates employers provide insurance to any worker who works 30 hours a week is not responsible for employers to cut hours below that but sequestration is. Well to paraphrase Hillary Clinton that would require a suspension of disbelief. Even the heads of three labor unions see the truth, in a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi they said Obamacare will destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week. As a reminder sequestration is just a cut in the rate of growth of federal spending. And to be clear, the sequester was the Presidents idea, as his press secretary and Secretary of the Treasury have admitted.
However the most egregious editorializing comes toward the end of the story when this is said ” many school employees are expected to qualify for obamacares tax subsidies…even if they don’t the new plans are preferable to what they currently have to buy on the individual market because insurers can’t deny coverage based on prior illness.” The preexisting condition coverage under Obamacare doesn’t make these plans preferable because according to the CBO only 3.4% of people say they don’t have insurance because their health was too poor to qualify, while the vast majority stated it was because insurance is too expensive, which the law doesn’t fix. The average policy for a family of 4 will be $20,000 while the average subsidy will be $2,672. That is a big gap for a family to make up.
There is a reason Obamacare has an approval rating of 34% and that is because the new health plans aren’t preferable. Abutaleb ends her report by quoting a labor official bemoaning the affects of shook districts limiting hours of teachers on children’s education. If she and news agencies did their jobs instead of promoting and defending Obama’s policies maybe we wouldn’t be in the predicament we find ourselves in.