House readies two more ObamaCare bills

The House Ways and Means Committee will meet Tuesday morning to mark up two ObamaCare bills that could be heading to the House floor in the coming weeks.

One of these is the Save American Workers (SAW) Act, H.R. 2575, which would repeal ObamaCare's definition of "full-time employee." The law requires companies to offer health plans to their workers when they have more than 50 full-time employees, and says anyone working 30 or hour hours a week is classified as full time.

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Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.), who sponsored the SAW Act, is one of dozens of Republicans who argue that this definition creates an incentive for companies to only allow people to work 29 hours a week. Reducing workers' hours can allow companies to stay under the 50-employee threshold, and can also allow companies to avoid fines for failing to provide insurance — those fines are based on how many full-time workers are not being offered insurance.

"Americans are seeing their hours cut and their paychecks reduced as a result of the employer mandate, a centerpiece of the law," Young said when he introduced the bill last June. "We were promised this bill would create jobs, and evidence that the opposite is happening is apparent every day."

As of this week, Young's bill has 192 co-sponsors, all Republicans.

Ways and Means will also consider H.R. 3979, which would ensure emergency services volunteers are not treated as full-time employees under ObamaCare who must be offered health insurance. The sponsor of this bill, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), says the IRS has indicated that it could treat these volunteer workers as full-time workers, which could trigger a finding that they must be given health insurance.

Barletta has said towns and other entities aren't ready to deal with the costs of complying with these costs, which could potentially close firehouses and put communities at risk. His bill is backed by the National Volunteer Fire Council, which says municipalities don't have the resources to cover benefits for volunteers, and that these volunteers generally are not expecting to receive benefits anyway.

The IRS said in a blog post in January that it would not treat them as full-time workers. But aides to Barletta said the congressman wants legislative certainty on this issue, rather than rely on a simple blog post.

Barletta's bill is a new version that makes technical changes from a version he offered in December. His new bill now has 66 bipartisan co-sponsors, but his older version, H.R. 3685, has 107 co-sponsors, including 19 Democrats. 

— This story was updated at 9:58 a.m. Tuesday, and again at 11:22 a.m., to clarify details about H.R. 3979.