National Council on Medicaid Home Care Reports on Ways and Means Employer Mandate Hearing
February 5, 2014 04:08 PM
On January 28, 2014, only hours before President Obama was scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the employer mandate included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Michelle Martin, policy director for the National Council on Medicaid Home Care, a NAHC affiliate, attended the hearing.
The hearing was well attended by the members of the Ways and Means Committee and focused on the 30-hour rule included in the ACA. The members heard testimony from five witnesses (written testimony of the witnesses can be found here):
Lanhee J. Chen, research fellow, Hoover Institution
Peter Anastos, owner, Maine Course Hospitality Group
Neil Trautwein, vice president, National Retail Federation
Thomas J. Snyder, president, Ivy Tech Community College
Helen Levy, research associate professor, Institute for Social Research
Following the testimony of each of the witnesses, all of the committee members in attendance were allowed five minutes for question and answer. The content of the hearing mainly focused on the “Save American Workers Act” (HR 2575), a bill offered by Congressman Todd Young (R-IN) in June of 2013. The bill seeks to redefine “full-time employee” as a person who works 40 hours per week, instead of 30 hours per week as defined in the language of the ACA, for purposes of the employer mandate. A similar bill, “Forty Hours Is Full Time Act of 2013,” was offered by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) in June of 2013 and has bipartisan support in the Senate.
During the hearing the Republican members of Congress repeatedly expressed support for redefining “full-time employee,” while the Democrats maintained that moving the threshold from 30 hours to 40 hours would be a greater incentive for employers to cut employees’ hours. For a discussion, please see the testimony of Helen Levy here.
Several of the Democrats concentrated their comments and questions on broader issues such as the best ways to fix the ACA and corporations’ responsibility to employees, which created the feeling that those members may not disagree with the change in definition, but they feel that there are bigger issues to focus on.
On February 4, 2013, the Ways and Means Committee voted to move Congressman Todd Young’s bill forward by a party-line vote of 23-14. No Democrats voted in favor of advancing the bill.
NAHC and the National Council on Medicaid Home Care recognize the relief that home care and hospice providers would experience if the ACA’s definition of “full-time employee” were changed to 40 hours per week in advance of the implementation of the employer mandate.
NAHC applauds the efforts of Congressman Todd Young and Senator Susan Collins to provide relief to hundreds of employers and thousands of employees throughout our nation. We hope that members of Congress will see the need to continue to work together to pass this important legislation and “fix” the parts of the ACA that have proven unworkable. Until the vote by the Ways and Means Committee, Republicans have staunchly refused any action related to improving the ACA, instead opting strictly for repeal of the full law.
For more information, please see NAHC Report, February 4, 2014.