Business groups slam ObamaCare '30 hour' rule

Retail, restaurant and other business groups blasted ObamaCare's definition of full-time work Tuesday after lawmakers tangled over the merits of changing it. 

The National Retail Federation and several peer trade groups said the current rule will cause businesspeople to cut employee hours to avoid offering them health insurance.

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The 30-hour definition, which comes as part of ObamaCare's employer mandate, "discarded more than a half-century of established labor policy," said Peter Anastos, owner of the Maine Course Hospitality Group. His statement was circulated by the International Franchise Association. 

Anastos testified Tuesday before the House Ways and Means Committee in a hearing that probed the possible unintended consequences of the 30-hour rule. 

Critics say the standard defies common sense and has led employers to switch full-time workers to part-time schedules in order to avoid the cost of providing health insurance. 

Republican lawmakers frequently cite anecdotes from constituents who say their hours have been cut as a result of the requirement. 

"The people hit the hardest by the law are not bankers, lawyers and doctors," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) in an opening statement. 

"They are the single mothers working a restaurant job, the college students paying for their own education by working at the local grocery." 

Supporters of the rule dispute its ill effects and argue that changing the standard to 40-hours-per-week will widen the pool of workers vulnerable to hour cuts. Changing the definition of full-time work could also raise the overall cost of the Affordable Care Act, they say.

Ways and Means Ranking Member Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) suggested in the hearing that some businesspeople are simply not committed to providing health insurance to their workers.

"Why wouldn't you want to cover them?" Levin asked the witness panel, referring to employees who work above 30 hours per week. "Why wouldn't you cover those people?" 

ObamaCare requires larger employers to offer health insurance to full-time workers starting next year or pay fines.

GOP lawmakers have zeroed in on changing the 30-hour-rule as they scale back their ambitions to defund or repeal the law during this Congress.