Industry Cheers ACA Amendment Bill Approval

The National Grocers Association (NGA), the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) expressed their support for the House Committee on Ways and Means’ approval of H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.), would change the definition of a full-time employee as defined by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from 30 hours per week per month to 40 hours per week per month.

“Changing the ACA’s definition of a full-time employee is a top priority for our membership, and we appreciate Chairman [Dave] Camp’s [R-Mich.] attention to this important issue,” said NGA President and CEO Peter J. Larkin, adding that the Arlington, Va.-based organization “urges House leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a bipartisan vote, and we look forward to swift consideration in the Senate.”

Minimizing Disruptions, Maintaining Quality

“[W]e hope to continue broadening support to raise the ACA’s 30-hours-per-week definition as this legislation moves forward,” noted Robert Rosado, director of government relations at FMI, which is also based in Arlington. “FMI strongly supports this legislation, as well as the Forty Hours Is Full Time Act, H.R. 2988 and S. 1188, respectively, and other efforts by Congress to address the ACA’s full-time employee definition this year."

Continued Rosado: “Food retailers and wholesalers employ 3.5 million full-time, part-time and seasonal workers — many operating under fluctuating work schedules in order to meet employee needs and varying consumer demand. … H.R. 2575 … minimizes disruptions to flexible-hour work environments and allows FMI retailers and wholesalers to maintain the quality and affordability of the health coverage offered to their employees under the ACA.”

"Raising the threshold of full-time under the ACA means that retailers will have the flexibility to continue to offer coverage at the current level, whether, for example, the level is 32, 35 or 37 hours," observed Christine Pollack, VP of government affairs at Arlington-based RILA. "Retailers have voluntarily offered coverage for nearly seven decades [and] they want to be able to continue to offer this coverage to their employees and their families."

For a Jan. 28 committee hearing on the issue, groups representing the industry, including the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation (NRF), NGA, and the Employers for Flexibility in Healthcare (E-FLEX) Coalition, of which NRF, NGA, FMI and RILA are members, all made their voices heard in favor of the full-time worker definition change.

A separate letter from RILA, sent by SVP Government Affairs Bill Hughes to Camp and committee ranking member Sander Levin (D.-Mich) ahead of the hearing, pointed out that "[m]ost retailers currently use an hourly or salaried workforce designation, not full-time or part-time, which reflects on an employee's desire for flexible hours and a manager's need to staff up a store during busy times. The ACA's definition of full-time as 30 hours of service per week fundamentally limits the flexibility of staffing from both the employer and store manager standpoint."

A vote on the House floor regarding the bill is expected to take place in the next few weeks.

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