Republicans move to change “full-time worker” definition

The newly minted Republican-controlled Congress began its campaign to weaken the Affordable Care Act this week, proposing a vote on a bill that would limit the number of employees entitled to employer-provided health insurance and potentially provide relief for benefits brokers looking for affordable solutions for clients.

Currently, the ACA requires companies with 50 or more employees to offer insurance to full-time workers, defined as those working 30 hours or more a week. The Republican bill would raise the full-time requirement to 40 hours a week, easing employer requirements under the health law.

The House is scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday, though the president is likely to veto such a change to the employer mandate, which has already been delayed twice. Currently, those with 100 workers or more are required to cover at least 70% of employees, with the mandate not applicable to smaller businesses until 2016.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said the move is part of a long-term Republican strategy to dismantle the health insurance law.

“At a minimum, we are going to strip out the worst parts,” Barrasso told Fox News.

Of the 30-hour work week, he said: “It’s hurt people’s take-home pay. It made people that work part-time have their hours cut to less than 30 hours a week.”

Similar legislation introduced in April, which the president threatened to veto, was found to increase the deficit by $74 billion over 10 years and cause 1 million people to lose their employer-provided health insurance if it were to pass.

Paul Van de Water, an analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, found that only 7% of the nation’s workforce work between 30 to 34 hours per week, while more than 44% of employees work 40 to 44 hours weekly.

“It’s the present legislation, not health reform, that threatens the traditional 40-hour work week the legislation’s sponsors say they want to protect,” Van de Water wrote in a report on the bill.

The proposition enjoys some Democratic support as well as some Republican opposition.

by Caitlin Bronson | Jan 07, 2015


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