By Jerry Geisel, Crain News Service
WASHINGTON (July 3, 2013) — Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives last week would exempt thousands of small employers from a key healthcare reform law provision that will require employers to offer coverage or pay a stiff fine.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, effective in 2014, employers with 50 or more full-time employees will have to provide qualified coverage or pay a $2,000 penalty for each full-time employee, minus the first 30 employees. Last week, though, the Treasury Department delayed that healthcare reform law provision until Jan. 1, 2015.
Under H.R. 2577, introduced last week by Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., that requirement to either offer coverage or pay a financial penalty would only apply to employers with at least 100 full-time employees.
"Small businesses should be protected from the impact" of the healthcare reform law's mandates and taxes, Mr. Messer said in a statement.
The bill was immediately backed by the National Retail Federation (NRF) in Washington, D.C.
"Expanding the definition of a 'large employer' to 100 employees would protect a wider range of small businesses and retailers and allow them to grow and hire more workers. An employer should never have to choose between hiring an additional employee or paying a penalty," David French, NRF's senior vice president for government relations, said.
Mr. Messer's bill is the latest in a legislative salvo intended to pare back rather than repeal the PPACA. Last month, for example, bills were introduced in the House and Senate that would ease the law's definition of a full-time employee, shielding more employers from the law's $2,000 per-employee penalty if they do not offer coverage.
This report appeared in Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.