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House passes bill offering smaller employers relief from ACA coverage mandate

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More small employers would be shielded from a health care reform law provision that requires employers to offer coverage or be liable for a stiff financial penalty under veterans-related legislation approved by the House of Representatives.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers with at least 100 full-time employees must offer coverage or be liable for a $2,000 per employee penalty, starting this year. In 2016, the 100-employee threshold for the so-called employer mandate drops to 50 employees and remains at that level in succeeding years.

Under the legislation, H.R. 22, introduced by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and passed on a 412-0 vote Tuesday, employees who due to their military service receive health care coverage from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the federal Tricare program would not be counted in calculating whether their employers hit the employment count threshold that triggers the ACA employer coverage mandate.

Passage of the legislation will give smaller employers an additional incentive to hire veterans, Rep. Davis said in a statement.

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

The House last year passed an identical bill, but it was not taken up by the Senate.