House to Vote on Changing ACA Definition of Full-Time to 40 Hours as Senate Democrats Press for Other Changes

March 28, 2014

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said Thursday that the House would vote next week to change the Affordable Care Act's definition of full-time work to 40 hours per week, an improvement in the law endorsed by the Association.  On the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), HR Policy Association pointed out in its letter of support to the House that employers and employees need a more common-sense definition of a full-time employee in the ACA to reduce the harmful unintended consequences of the law.  We further noted:

 
This provision of the law is not in the best interests of the country and it should be changed.  Reverting back to the traditional definition of a full-time employee would eliminate the incentive in the ACA for employers to restructure their workforces to avoid the employer penalties, and encourage them to hire more full-time employees.
 
Although a similar bill has bipartisan support in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid is unlikely to bring it up for a vote this year.  Separately, several Senate Democrats who are up for re-election this fall announced this week they will push for changes to the ACA including: creating a "copper" level exchange plan with lower premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs, expanding small business tax credits, directing states to develop models for selling health insurance across state lines, and reducing regulatory and administrative burdens for businesses.  However, Democratic leaders in the Senate announced they intend to bring up bills that focus on their core election year issues (income inequality and women) instead.  But the embattled Democrats' effort does identify potential changes that could be made to the ACA next year.  "This is breaking the dam," said Tevi Troy, former deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and President of the American Health Policy Institute. "The fact that you've got six Democrats on record backing changes could change the landscape after the election."