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Public Policy

Delay Gives Congress Time to Fix Health Care Reform

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Now that the Obama administration has delayed until 2015 the requirement that large employers provide health insurance for full-time workers, NRF and other business groups have time to seek passage of legislation that would make the Affordable Care Act more manageable.

“This one-year delay will provide employers and businesses more time to update their health care coverage without threat of arbitrary punishment,” NRF vice president and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein says. “We appreciate the administration’s recognition of employer concerns and hope it will allow for greater flexibility in the future.”

Under health care reform, companies with 50 or more full-time workers will be required to provide those full-time employees with health care insurance at government-mandated levels or face huge fines. The requirement was scheduled to take effect in January 2014, but the administration announced early last month that it would be postponed by one year. Other requirements, including the mandate that all individuals have health coverage, will take effect as scheduled, although House Republicans are seeking to delay the individual mandate as well.

The announcement came less than a week after NRF testified before a House committee and asked that implementation of the entire Affordable Care Act be delayed because key regulatory issues remain unresolved.

The delay will provide time for Congress to consider recently introduced legislation that would address some of retailers’ key concerns with the law. The Small Business Job Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.), would amend the measure to apply only to businesses with 100 or more full-time workers, rather than the current 50. The Save American Workers Act, sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.), would define full-time as working 40 hours per week rather than 30.

NRF has heard from a number of small retailers just below the 50-worker threshold who want to grow but are being blocked from creating jobs because they cannot afford the cost of the mandate. In addition, NRF has argued that the 30-hour standard is difficult for merchants because retail workers’ hours often vary from week to week.