A mandate in President Obama’s health care law that requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide adequate health insurance is so cumbersome that even the parts designed to help firms with compliance will cause headaches, according to a Republican leader in the House.
Rep. Sam Graves, chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, sent a critical letter to the Treasury on Friday to comment on the “employer mandate” within Mr. Obama’s signature law. In it, he argues the litany of calculations contained in a rule published by the department at the start of the year will burden small business owners who already have enough on their plates.
“Simply put, compliance with the health care law could become a full-time job for them,” the Missouri congressman wrote. “Each year, they will be forced to make multiple decisions and calculations just to determine if one provision — the employer mandate — applies to them.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says companies with 50 or more full-time employees that do not provide adequate health insurance must pay a penalty if employees get federal tax credits to buy their own insurance. Large employers that do not offer coverage must pay $2,000 per full-time employee, beyond their first 30 workers, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Small-business advocates say companies flirting with the 50-employee threshold may resorts to layoffs or impose a hiring freeze to stay below the cap.
In his letter, Mr. Graves said the rule is a potential job-killer and will sap business owners’ precious time.
He also took exception to the rule’s definition of a full-time employee as someone who works 30 hours per week.
“It’s no secret that small business owners have been struggling with existing taxes, regulations and mandates in a slow economy just to keep the doors open and the lights on,” he said in his letter. “Now, under the law and this rule, they must take on the added and recurring burden of time-consuming calculations to see if they may be subject to the expensive employer mandate.”
Mr. Graves‘ committee is among several in the Republican-controlled House that are fixating on the implementation of Mr. Obama’s law. Attempts to repeal the president’s first-term achievement have gotten nowhere, after the Supreme Court upheld key portions of the law in June and Democrats retained control of the White House and Senate after the November elections.
So for now, while political opponents of “Obamacare” are attempting to shed light on its more controversial aspects.
Chairmen of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reforms and the Committee on Ways and Means have asked the Treasury for documents that detail their decision to extend tax credits to those purchasing insurance in a marketplace, or “exchange,” set up by the federal government. About half the states have opted for a federally run exchange instead of setting one up themselves.
Committee chairmen Darrell Issa, California Republican, and Dave Camp, Michigan Republican, say Mr. Obama’s law explicitly states the tax credits should only be extended to those who purchase insurance through a state-run exchange. The Internal Revenue Service issued a rule in May that says the tax credits will be available in both forms of the exchanges.
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