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Waitress pays steep price for Obamacare's 'free' healthcare

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on September 16, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 16 at 11:14 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- In the waiting room of the Family Health Center on Portland Avenue, Kelli Ramirez, an uninsured restaurant server, appears to be a perfect example of someone ready to benefit from the Affordable Care Act.

"I don't have any (insurance). I can't afford it. I come here," Ramirez said.

Yet, Ramirez, 35, is not embracing the ACA, even as it makes her eligible for free health insurance.

"I don't like it," Ramirez said.  "I don't like it. I don't like it at all," because she is already paying a steep price for her free health insurance.

"I got my hours cut in half because they put a new computer system in orders," Ramirez explained, requesting that WHAS11 not name the restaurant where she works.  "so that they didn't have to give health insurance."

"Obamacare" requires employers with more than fifty full-time-equivalent workers to offer health insurance to each employee who works at least thirty hours a week.

Though the Obama administration has postponed the employer mandate until January of 2015, some companies, especially restaurants, are already cutting part-timers hours below 30 per week.

Ramirez is one of the so-called "29'ers."

Ramirez said her hours have been cut from 32 per week to 16 per week, though a superior was working to add more to her schedule.
 
"They only have so many people that can be full time because of the cost of health insurance," Ramirez said, defending her employer.  "And so now most of us that are working lower jobs are going to have to get a second job just to be able to make it."

Though Ramirez would rather keep her health care as it is, her provider is anxious for the ACA's
reimbursements to kick in.

"It will first of all help us get out of the current operating deficit that we're experiencing this year of
over $2 million," said William Wagner, Executive Director of Family Health Centers.  "But as we get out of the operating deficit, we will be able to expand facilities. expand the number of staff."
 
With ACA sign-ups two weeks away (Oct 1), Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) told WHAS11 on Monday that it is not too late to delay the entire law -- and address the unintended consequences.

"There's a lot of unknown about this," Paul said.  "So I think the compromise will be somewhere in between.  We can only get to that if the Republicans in the House stand up and say we're not going to fund it."

Public support for the Affordable Care Act has reached its lowest level since the law was passed. A new Pew Research Center and USA Today poll finds that 53 percent of people disapprove of the ACA.

Paul was asked whether the law should be delayed for those planning on signing up when open enrollment begins October 1.

"I'm not sure exactly what the answer is," Paul replied.  "I think the answer needs to be somewhere in between."

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced an amendment to an energy efficiency bill that would both enforce the delay of the employer mandate and delay the individual mandate for one year.

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