Donnelly proposes change to healthcare law

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Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a measure Wednesday that would change the definition of a full-time worker under the Affordable Care Act.

The proposal is aimed at preventing workers from having their hours scaled back as businesses try to cope with the additional cost of providing insurance.

Under the ACA, businesses with 50 or more employees must provide healthcare coverage to full-time workers. Currently, anyone who averages 30 hours or more per week is considered full-time.

But, Donnelly says that’s not in line with reality.

“We've heard from folks in Indiana who have said, ‘Look, I was working 35 hours, I'm now going to be working 29 hours, and this is going to make it more challenging for me,” Donnelly said. “When we look at the definition of full time employment, I think all Hoosiers and folks around the country know that full-time is 40 hours.”

Donnelly and Collins say no other federal law considers a 30-hour work week full-time. So, they’re proposing the ACA defines full-time employees as those logging at least 40 hours per week – a move they say will be beneficial to businesses and their workers.

“Employers simply should not be put in the position where they feel that they have no option but to cut their workers hours just to avoid federal penalties,” Collins said.

The ACA will go into effect in January. But, Collins and Donnelly are asking President Obama to be understanding as they consider the changes.

“Senator Collins and I have written a letter together to the President saying, as our small businesses go through this, give them the time to figure it out, give them the time to get the flexible challenges met without penalty,” Donnelly said.

Collins says they haven’t done an analysis to determine how much the change would cost, but says it would result in more Americans worker longer work weeks – a good thing in her mind.

But, some Democrats claim changing the full-time requirement to 40 hours will come with a significant price increase.