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House panel approves change to Obamacare work week standard

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A key House committee approved a bill Tuesday that would change Obamacare’s definition of a “full-time” work week from 30 hours to the more traditional 40-hour week.

The House Ways and Means Committee also green-lighted a bill that exempt police, firefighters and emergency medical responders from being counted under the law’s “employer mandate,” which starting in 2015 requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide health coverage or pay fines.

The Obama administration has said it would exempt volunteer first-responders from the mandate’s calculation, but House Republicans wanted a firm legislative proposal.

The mandate under the current law defines a full-time worker as someone who works 30 hours or more per week. Since inception, it’s been a key source of complaint for GOP lawmakers and even some Democrats. 

Critics of the definition say companies are cutting employees’ hours to stay under the 30-hour cap. Those who worked between 30 to 40 hours were typically thought to be part-time workers, and some companies say they cannot afford to provide them health coverage or pay fines for flouting the mandate.

“The president’s health care law changes the American work week in a way that hurts the income of workers and discourages new hiring by local businesses,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, Texas Republican who chairs the subcommittee on health. “It is destroying jobs and opportunities and is especially hard on less skilled workers.”


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