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House bill targets ACA's 30-hour definition for full-time employees

House bill targets ACA's 30-hour definition for full-time employees

The House of Representatives is expected to vote later this week on newly introduced 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 measure, H.R. 30, introduced Tuesday by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., with 147 co-sponsors, would change the act's definition of full-time employees to those working an average of 40 hours per week.

“Repealing this provision and restoring the traditional understanding of a 40-hour (workweek) is necessary to protect” the paychecks of employees, Rep. Young said in a statement.

The Obama administration strongly opposes the measure, and a presidential veto is likely if the measure receives final congressional approval.

“The issue is essentially that we would be putting even more workers in a situation where we could see some employers cutting back on their hours to try to avoid the requirement of providing them quality health insurance,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday at a briefing.

The House last year approved an identical measure, but the bill died in the Senate, controlled by Democrats at the time, when then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., declined to bring up the bill.

A companion bill is expected to be introduced — perhaps as soon as Wednesday — in the Senate.

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