Lobbyists push to change ObamaCare's definition of full-time work

Major advocates for private industry are forming a new lobbying coalition to push to raise ObamaCare's definition of full-time work to 40 hours a week. 

The effort will combine firepower from major K Street associations prior to an election that could see the GOP claim the Senate. 

The groups argue that ObamaCare sets an unreasonable standard when it requires employers to offer health coverage to employees who work 30 hours a week or more.

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The House in April voted to change the definition to 40 hours, and if the GOP takes the Senate they're expected to make the healthcare law's 30-hour rule a top target in their offensive against ObamaCare. 

The "More Time for Full-Time" initiative appears to be laying the foundation for that agenda. 

"Unless there is a statutory change to the definition of a full-time employee in the Affordable Care Act, there will be fewer full-time jobs, more part-time workers and fewer overall hours available for Americans to work," said International Franchise Association (IFA) President Steve Caldeira in a statement. 

"This initiative will bring greater focus to the negative impact this law is having for workers and employers and hopefully move us closer to the bipartisan reform we need." 

The coalition includes some of the largest industry lobby groups in Washington, such as the IFA, the National Retail Federation, the Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Association. 

Defenders of the rule say it is not causing a significant shift to part-time work, and that raising the threshold to 40 hours would make such a shift more likely. 

"Only a small share of workers today — less than 8 percent — work 30 to 34 hours a week and thus are most at risk of having their hours cut below health reform’s threshold," wrote Paul N. Van de Water, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in an issue brief last October. 

"In comparison, 43 percent of employees work 40 hours a week, and another several percent work 41 to 44 hours a week. Thus, raising the threshold to 40 hours would place more than five times as many workers at risk of having their hours reduced."