Obama administration to delay part of Affordable Care Act

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by USA Today

WVEC.com

Posted on February 11, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 11 at 7:20 PM

WASHINGTON — Businesses with more than 50 employees but fewer than 100 will have an extra year to phase in coverage of employees who work more than 30 hours a week, Treasury Department officials announced Monday.

Owner of Changes City Spa, Jakes Place, and co-owner of 222 Hairstyling in Norfolk, Norma Dory, is relieved that the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act was extended.

Director of Operations Ashley Hebert says the delay gives her more time to analyze which option is affordable for employees.

Hebert says Changes City Spa has not offered health insurance in two years due to sequestration cuts and other economic influences. She says they could only afford to offer health insurance to employees at Jakes' Place - one of three salons. 

Hebert tells 13News Now that each employee has a different profile of health needs and it's been difficult to get a group plan that is also inexpensive for those who don't want health insurance at all, like many young employees at 222 Hairstyling.

According to Hebert they plan to continue having an insurance broker work with every employee to figure out what plan they can get through the marketplace.

Businesses with more than 100 employers will be subject to employee-coverage rules under the Affordable Care Act beginning in January 2015. The mandate to provide insurance had already been delayed one year.

Volunteer firefighters, part-time teachers and adjunct professors who teach less than 15 hours a week will not be counted as full-time employees, according to a rule released Monday.

“This is a huge victory for volunteer emergency responders and the communities that rely on them,” Sen. Mark Warner said. “I’ve said all along that there will be issues that arise with health care reform and that we should work in a bipartisan way to fix them. I am proud that together, we were able to solve this issue and keep Virginia’s first responders working for their communities.”

The delay announced last July fueled calls from the law's Republican opponents that the entire law needed to be delayed or repealed, which President Obama and congressional Democrats refused to do. The federal and state exchanges where people can buy health insurance opened on time Oct. 1 but were immediately plagued by outages and glitches that slowed enrollment to a crawl until the site was fixed Nov. 30. Since then, more than 3 million have bought insurance through the exchanges.

The new rule gives employers more time to expand coverage or to provide health insurance if they have never done so before. Those who do not have insurance through their employers may sign up for health insurance at www.HealthCare.gov. Most Americans who make less than 400% of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four, are eligible for subsidies to help pay for insurance.

Businesses with more than 100 employees must offer coverage to 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95% of their employees in 2016.

Employers will need to certify on a form that they did not drop employees to avoid providing coverage.

The change came after input from employers and members of Congress. The new rule determines that adjunct professors should be based on an hour of preparation outside the classroom for every hour spent teaching in the classroom and that part-time teachers working 30 hours a week during the school year do not count as full-time employees if they have the summer off.

Businesses with more than 50 employees would have paid a fee of $2,000 per uninsured employee after the first 30 employees, as well as a fee for employees who receive a subsidy through the exchanges. This comes at a cost to the government: The Congressional Budget Office expected such penalties to bring in $4 billion in 2014, and the new delay causes two years' worth of lost funds.

Companies with fewer than 50 full-time workers are already exempt from the rule.

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