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The House of Representatives on Thursday approved legislation to ease the health care reform law's definition of a full-time employee by changing it to those working an average of at least 40 hours per week, shielding more employers from a stiff financial penalty imposed by the law.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers with at least 100 employees are required, effective in 2015, to offer qualified coverage to full-time employees — defined as those working an average of 30 hours per week — or be liable for an annual $2,000 penalty per employee. The same requirement applies, effective in 2016, to employers with between 50 and 99 employees.
The legislation, H.R. 2575, introduced by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., and approved by the House on a 248-179 vote, would change the act's definition of full-time employees to those working an average of 40 hours per week. Eighteen House Democrats broke party ranks to vote for the bill.
“This legislation restores a common understanding in America, spanning over half a century, of what constitutes full-time work. In other words, it restores a basic American value,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said at the time his committee passed the measure.
But the Obama administration views the legislation differently.
“The proposed change would reduce the number of people receiving employer-based coverage by about 1 million, while increasing the number of uninsured, the administration said in a statement Tuesday. The White House said if the bill receives congressional approval, President Obama will veto it.
A similar bill, S. 1188, introduced last year by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has not yet been considered in the Senate.