Benefits & Compensation News

New bills aim to change 2 unpopular Obamacare rules

There’s some new Obamacare legislation being considered right now that all HR and benefits pros will want to keep an eye on.

First, there’s the Forty Hours is Full Time Act of 2013, which was introduced by Sens. Collin (R-ME) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) to increase the threshold for hours worked to 40 for an individual to be considered a full-time employee.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2014, Obamacare defines full-time employees for the  purposes of determining an employer’s “shared-responsibility” requirements as individuals who work at least 30 hours per week (currently it’s set at 40), which is calculated on a monthly basis.

Under the health reform law, firms with 50 or more full-time employees that don’t offer health insurance that meets the minimum essential coverage requirements to all full-timers will be hit with a shared-responsibility penalty.

The bill would also increase the number of hours an employee would have to hit to be considered a “full-time equivalent” employee to 174 hours per month.

$100 billion over the next decade

Another interesting piece of legislation is the Jobs and Premium Protection Act, which was introduced by Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA) and Jim Matheson (D-UT), would repeal a sales tax on health insurance plans that is slated to take effect in 2014 and generate $8 billion in its first year $14.3 billion in 2018.

Overall, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the tax will exceed $100 billion over the course of the next decade.

The tax is included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and was created to help pay for the cost of Obamacare.

However, opponents of the reform rule argue that the cost will be passed directly onto consumers, hurting individuals and small businesses.

For example, in comments sent to the House Ways and Means Committee Work Groups, the advocacy group America’s Health Insurance Plans argued that the “tax will be particularly painful for vulnerable populations, including consumers who buy coverage on their own, small business owners who struggle to provide coverage to their employees, seniors who rely on the Medicare Advantage program as a health care safety net, and low-income people who are served by state Medicaid programs.”

The bipartisan bill currently has a lot of support, with a total of 218 co-sponsors in the House.

We’ll keep you posted on the progress of both bills.

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