Home Depot sends 20,000 employees into Obamacare

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Home Depot is transferring roughly 20,000 part-time workers to the taxpayer-funded Obamacare exchanges, marking another step in the nationwide rollout of President Barack Obama’s most prized accomplishment.

“Unfortunately, the ACA [Affordable Care Act] precludes us from offering the limited liability medical plan we’ve been offering the part-time associates,” said Stephen Holmes, the company’s director of corporate communications.

The 20,000 employees will have more options on government-run exchanges, he told The Daily Caller.

Home Depot Inc. employs roughly 340,000 people, but declined to give a precise number of people who will be impacted by the change.

The government-run exchange requires people to buy insurance for a government-designed set of health-care services, including services promoted by corporate lobbies. The insurance packages can be more expensive than sought by workers, especially younger workers, but the extra costs are partially offset by subsidies from other taxpayers.

Home Depot’s current limited liability plan allows part-timers to get critical health-care coverage at low cost.

Home Depot’s founder, Bernie Marcus, is a strong critic of the government network. “Obamacare is going to kill off small business,” he said this year.

The accelerating shift of workers to Obama’s taxpayer-funded network will likely drive up costs to taxpayers, disadvantage companies that try to pay for their employees’ health-care and make more voters dependent on health-care decisions made by Democratic officials and legislators.

The switch is also making a mockery of Obama’s promise that Americans would be able to keep their pre-Obamacare insurance if they prefer.

“If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what,” he said in June 2009.

This fall, GOP legislators and supporters are working to defund the Obamacare network, or to extend White House-imposed delays in the program to all Americans.

Republicans are also trying to craft their own free-market replacement for the government-run Obamacare network. The draft bill developed by the Republican Study Committee would provide large tax breaks to help all Americans buy health-care insurance in a nationwide market, and also provide a fund to aid people with pre-existing conditions.

Polls show that a majority of Americans oppose the taxpayer-funded, government-run Obamacare network.

However, the same polls also a lopsided majority of Americans are worried that a sudden end to Obamacare could be painful.

Washington is girding for a high-stakes fight over Obamacare this fall. A majority of GOP legislators want a quick defund of the program, while Obama and his White House deputies claim that the GOP’s opposition to the program is prompted by its desire to cut-back health care for ordinary Americans.

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Neil Munro