Bill to redefine full-time employment would ease nursing homes' ACA compliance

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A recently introduced House bill would change the Affordable Care Act's definition of full-time employment, which has been a sticking point for long-term care providers seeking to comply with the healthcare law's employer mandate.

Under the mandate, employers with at least 50 full-time workers must provide affordable health insurance or face penalties. The law currently defines full-time employment as 30 hours a week. This would change to 40 hours a week under a measure introduced Aug. 2 by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL).

Lipinski said nursing homes are among the employers most likely to reduce workers' hours in response to the employer mandate, according to a University of California-Berkeley Labor Center study.

“Even with the Administration's recent decision to delay the Obamacare employer mandate for one year, we already know some employers are preparing to meet the law's guidelines by slashing workers' hours and forcing them to work 29 hours a week or less,” Lipinski stated. The 40-hour week is widely considered full-time by law and by employers, he added.

A corresponding bill has been introduced in the Senate.

While the one-year employer mandate delay gives providers some breathing room, they do not have the same staffing flexibility as other types of employers, according to Sharon Stiller, head of the employment law practice at Abrams, Fensterman in New York City. This makes it even more important for long-term care providers to waste no time in preparing for employer mandate compliance, Stiller recently told McKnight's.

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