House Approves Bill To Change ACA Full-Time Employee Definition
The House yesterday voted 252-172 to approve legislation (HR 30) that would change the definition of full-time employees under the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate from those who work 30 hours per week to 40 hours per week, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, all Republican members and a dozen Democrats voted in favor of the bill (Weisman, New York Times, 1/8).
Currently, the employer mandate requires businesses with more than 50 full-time employees working 30 hours or more per week to provide affordable health coverage to workers or face fines (California Healthline, 7/25/14).
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the measure could help to stop employers from cutting employees' hours to avoid the mandate. In addition, McConnell dismissed a projection released released by the Congressional Budget Office this week that the bill would add to the federal deficit (Ferris/Marcos, The Hill, 1/8). CBO estimated that the bill would increase the deficit by $53.2 billion over 10 years, while reducing the number of individuals with employer-sponsored insurance by about one million (New York Times, 1/8).
McConnell said the mandate as it currently stands "is wreaking havoc out in society regardless of what the CBO view may be of the impact on the U.S. budget," adding, "We know the impact on the family budget, and it's not good."
Some Democrats have argued that the legislation would force employees to work more hours while still not qualifying for employer-sponsored health coverage. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, "This bill will allow you to work 10 more hours without health care," adding, "I'm sure every American worker is saying, 'Thank God the Republicans are going to have me work 10 more hours before I can get health insurance'" (The Hill, 1/8).
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) criticized Republicans' efforts to pass the bill as nothing more than an attempt to repeal the ACA. He said, "Republicans know that they can't repeal it outright, so now they're trying to do it piece by piece."
National Retail Federation Vice President of Health Policy Neil Trautwein praised the measure, calling it "an opportunity to show that Congress can work together to address specific problems with the ACA" (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 1/8). Other business groups also applauded the bill's passage. For example, Retail Industry Leaders Association Vice President of Government Affairs Christine Pollack said, "Retailers have voluntarily offered health care coverage to their employees and their families for decades and restoring the historic 40-hour work week threshold is critical to allowing them to continue to offer this coverage" (Ferris, The Hill, 1/8).
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration, despite a veto threat from the White House issued earlier this week (Rappeport, "First Draft," New York Times, 1/8). According to the Wall Street Journal's "Capital Journal," Republicans would need six Democrats to join them to overcome a filibuster (Hughes, "Capital Journal," Wall Street Journal, 1/8). Industry groups have said they are confident the bill will pass the Senate, The Hill reports.
However, one Democratic aide said it would be "surpris[ing]" if the Senate approves the measure, citing Democratic skepticism and pushback from some Republicans who would rather repeal the ACA in its entirety (Ferris/Marcos, The Hill, 1/8). According to the Los Angeles Times, it is unclear whether the Senate will approve the bill (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 1/8).
Further, because the bill did not gain enough support in the House to override a presidential veto of the measure, it is unlikely to be enacted (Modern Healthcare, 1/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.