In a vote that largely tracked party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill early this month that would relax the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) employer health care mandate to only cover employees who regularly work 40 or more hours per week.
As previously reported, employers who fall under the ACA health care mandate are already in the throes of their first month of compliance, and federal agencies continue to limit their ability to achieve cost savings within the confines of the law. Against this backdrop, and with a newly-sworn Republican majority in both houses of Congress, House Republicans passed a bill that would change the definition of full-time work from 30 to 40 hours, thereby reducing the number of employees covered by the mandate. Republican lawmakers continue to warn that if Congress does not take action, evidence of worker hours being cut to avoid the provision of benefits will rise dramatically.
While the Republican-controlled Senate may well pass the bill, President Obama has vowed to veto it. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate, however Senate Democrats have not expressed sufficient support to override a near-definite veto by the President.