Health Care Reform
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With insurance premiums skyrocketing for years, NRF has long advocated reform that would make health care more accessible by making it more affordable. Instead, the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 does little to reduce costs and emphasizes mandates that drive up expenses for employers. Since the beginning of 2015, businesses with 100 or more workers have been required to provide insurance to full-time employees at coverage levels determined by the government, and the requirement has applied to businesses with 50 or more employees since the beginning in 2016. The costs of the mandates are so high some retailers have been forced to stay under the 50-employee threshold to avoid being covered; others have cut workers’ hours so they won’t count as full-time.
Why It Matters to Retailers
While retailers will see the same added payroll costs as other industries, compliance is particularly complicated because of the nature of retail’s workforce. Retailers employ not just permanent, full-time workers, but also a large number of part-time, seasonal and temporary workers. Certain provisions of the law, such as its 30-hour definition of full-time, are problematic under those conditions. As an industry with extremely tight profit margins, retailers are unable to absorb the added costs, and could be forced to lay off workers.
NRF Advocates for True Health Care Reform
NRF has long been committed to helping find a solution, and proposed a comprehensive health care reform plan in 2008. While some elements supported by NRF can be seen in the Affordable Care Act, NRF opposed passage because of the law’s failure to adequately address health care costs and its job-killing employer mandate. NRF has worked to repeal the most onerous provisions of the health care law, such as the employer mandate, but those efforts have not yet succeeded. In the meantime, NRF leads a number of coalitions on health care reform and is focusing on efforts to smooth implementation and help retailers with compliance. Among other measures, NRF supports legislation that would define full-time as 40 hours rather than 30, and a bill that would have the law apply to businesses with 100 or more employees rather than 50.
A number of welcome reforms to the law were seen in 2015, beginning with repeal of a requirement that would have pushed companies with between 50 and 100 workers into the small-group health insurance market, which carries higher premiums and additional mandates than the large-group market. Also repealed was a requirement for large employers to automatically enroll workers in health care plans whether they wanted coverage or not. The effective date of the 40 percent “Cadillac Tax” on high-value health plans was delayed two years to 2020, the 2.3 percent medical device tax was suspended for two years until 2018, and the law’s per-subscriber Health Insurance Tax on insurance companies was delayed one year until 2017.
The reforms came after a June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act for the second time and NRF said Congress should “seize the opportunity and address the most egregious errors in this poorly constructed law.”
June 2013: NRF testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: Hearing on “Challenges Facing America’s Businesses Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”
February 2013: NRF testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation: Hearing on: “The Power of Transparency: Giving Consumers the Information They Need to Make Smart Choices in the Health Insurance Marketplace”
July 2013: Choices and Consequences Under the Affordable Care Act (members-only on-demand webinar replay)
Affordable Health Benefits Coalition – NRF-chaired coalition of allied business interests focused on the cost of medical care and health insurance coverage.
Employers for Flexibility in Health Care Coalition
The Affordable Coverage Project – Coalition working to repeal the ACA health insurance tax
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