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Dave Ross

Families are finding themselves collateral damage of Obamacare

In this grab made from video, French President Francois Hollande shakes hands with police and security services personnel after arriving at the scene of the hostage situation in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Normandy, France, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers took hostages inside a French church during morning Mass on Tuesday near the city of Rouen, killing an 86-year-old priest by slitting his throat before being shot and killed by police, French officials said. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. (France Pool via AP)

The president was selling Obamacare Thursday at the White House – dismissing Republican critics who say it’s hurting working people. But I got yet another message from a listener who says that’s exactly what’s happened to her family.

“To avoid the medical benefit requirement, my husband’s company cut everybody back to 24 hours a week. Now he has to work two jobs,” said “Ingrid” (that’s what we’re calling her) in a message she left via the KIRO Radio app.

So I called her, and found out her husband was getting 40 hours of work a week at a small casino, and everything was going fine. He was working four 10-hour shifts a week.

“The company decided, across-the-board, to cut all of their people down to two or three days a week,” said Ingrid. The staff of 80 to 90 employees grew to around 110, as more part-timers were hired to cover the same amount of hours.

Financially, it wasn’t enough for the couple. Ingrid works too, and they were already paying the out-of-pocket expense for her husband’s health insurance, which meant he didn’t need to have the insurance provided by his company under Obamacare.

But he did need more hours. “He went out, and not very easily, got another job in the same industry. So now he’s working six days a week,” said Ingrid. “I know if it’s happening in this industry, it’s happening all over.”

Now, his employer hasn’t told Ingrid’s husband that the cuts were due to Obamacare, only that the cuts were due to changes in “business demand.”

“I think it was not thought through very well by the lawmakers,” said Ingrid.

I can see why she’s steamed. Since her family’s health care was already covered, her husband was simply part of the collateral damage.

I’ll give you a little inside scoop. Supporters of health care wouldn’t mind a bit if the employer mandate was suspended because under the Affordable Care Act, individuals cannot be denied insurance.

So you could just let employers, who don’t want to subsidize health care, drop out and then they wouldn’t feel the need to cut hours – and everyone still gets insured. But you’re not tied to one job anymore for fear of losing your insurance.

And if you don’t want insurance, you pay a relatively small tax penalty – which amounts to your emergency room insurance, since they have to take you.

… and you’re done.

MyNorthwest.com’s Alyssa Kleven contributed to this report.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

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