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Obamacare Could Push 1 Million Americans From 'Work to Welfare

Paul Scicchitano

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July 18, 2013

Researchers have concluded that Obamacare may drive nearly one million Americans out of the workforce to take advantage of government-provided health benefits.


The findings, which were released this month, are higher than previous estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which projected that as many as 800,000 people may leave their jobs once Obamacare takes effect.


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“The CBO may be potentially underestimating the employment loss and it should think more carefully about that,” said Craig Garthwaite, an assistant professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, in an exclusive interview with Newsmax on Thursday.


House Speaker John Boehner, who has been a vociferous critic of the president’s signature healthcare law touted the study findings in a tweet this week: “Study: #ObamaCare could push nearly 1 million Americans from work to welfare.”


The study, which was published as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, examined the disenrollment of 170,000 Tennessee residents from the state’s TennCare program in 2005 and then applied the findings to U.S. data.


“What we see is that about half of those people end up with private health insurance within a period of a few months. And it’s primarily accomplished by moving into the labor force,” said Garthwaite, who also said that researchers noted a surge in Google searches related to the term “job openings” coinciding with the Tennessee disenrollment.


“In many ways you can think of this as like the Affordable Care Act in reverse,” according to Garthwaite, who authored the study along with Matthew J. Notowidigdo of the Book School of Business at the University of Chicago, and Tal Gross, of the School of Public Health at Columbia University.


“Instead of giving a bunch of people health insurance, they were taking it away,” he said of the Tennessee program.


“But the minute that was gone they moved into the labor force and they primarily moved into jobs that were working more than 20 or more than 35 hours a week — very common jobs in which we tend to think that you’re at least more likely to be able to get employer-provided health insurance,” he explained, pointing to people aged 40 to 64 in particular.


He said researchers then applied the findings to the population of working adults who make less than 200 percent of the poverty line and currently receive employer-provided health insurance in the United States.


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“These are the individuals we think are most similar to our TennCare population,” he said. “When we look and we apply our estimates to that we see anywhere from 500,000 to 940,000 people might end up choosing to leave the labor force once they have access to a non-employer health insurance option.”


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