House Considers More ACA Repeals and Delays

September 13, 2018

The House is taking another swing at the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – targeting a handful of provisions for repeal or delay through legislation that is set to be taken up by the Rules Committee and considered on the House floor for a vote sometime later this week. The bill—dubbed the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 3798)—aims to primarily make life easier for small businesses.

It delays the ACA’s employer mandate, further postpones the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost health plans and changes the definition of a “full-time worker” to someone employed 40 hours a week, up from 30 hours. In a win for the sun-tanning lobby, it would repeal ACA’s 10 percent tax on indoor tanning salons.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the bill could cost the government more than $50 billion over a decade.

On Sept. 14, Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) introduced the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 3798), bipartisan legislation to repeal the 30-hour threshold for full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate under the ACA.

The Rules Committee considered a version of H.R. 3798 that includes both the original text of H.R. 3798 and the original text of two other bills, H.R. 6718 and H.R. 4616. The new, expanded version of the bill would:

  • Change the ACA employer coverage mandate threshold for “full-time employee” to 40 hours per week, from 30 hours per week;
  • Keep the ACA employer coverage mandate from applying to any month beginning after Dec. 31, 2014, and before Jan. 1, 2019;
  • Postpone the start date of the ACA excise tax on high-cost health benefits packages to Dec. 31, 2022, from the Dec. 31, 2021, start date now in effect;
  • Repeal an ACA excise tax on indoor tanning services;
  • Require employers to provide Form 1095 coverage statements to individuals only when individuals ask for the statements, instead of having to send the statements to all employees, recently departed employees and certain dependents every year.

The ACA, requires employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent workers to offer health insurance to full-time employees or face a penalty. The law defines full-time status as 30 hours of work per week, significantly below the traditional definition of 40 hours. This has forced businesses to reduce hours and slow hiring in order to avoid unaffordable new costs or the ACA’s substantial fines. The 30-hour definition has affected workers in the private sector as well as city, state, and school employees, with a particularly severe impact on hourly, part-time, and seasonal workers.

The bipartisan Save American Workers Act, which passed the House in 2014 and 2015, would provide relief to middle class families and certainty for job creators by changing the definition of a full-time employee under the ACA to 40 hours per week, putting it back in line with the widely-used traditional definition.

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), a member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, championed the two additional pieces of bipartisan legislation. First, the Health Coverage Reporting Paperwork Reduction Act (H.R. 6718) amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide that health insurance coverage statements are required to be provided to individuals only upon request. The bill was introduced on Sept. 6 and was co-sponsored by Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), and Diane Black (R-Tenn.).

The second measure—H.R. 4616—which the House Ways and Means Committee approved in July, would amend the ACA, to provide for a temporary moratorium on the employer mandate and to provide for a delay in the implementation of the excise tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored health coverage.

If enacted, H.R. 4616 suspends collection of penalties imposed on large employers who decline to offer their employees’ health insurance coverage that meets specified standards (known as the employer mandate) for three years, covering plan years 2015-2018. It also would delay implementation of the excise tax on high-premium insurance plans—known as the Cadillac Tax–by one year.