Senate sends ObamaCare tweak to president's desk

Senate sends ObamaCare tweak to president's desk
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The Senate on Thursday passed a bipartisan change to ObamaCare’s definition of a small employer by unanimous consent, sending the measure to President Obama’s desk. 

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The bill, called the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act, deals with an obscure provision in ObamaCare that changed the definition of a small employer from one with 50 employees or fewer to one with 100 employees or fewer, beginning in 2016.

The change would force businesses with 51 to 100 employees into the small-group insurance market, where they would face new coverage requirements, likely pay higher premiums and could lose their current plans.

The PACE Act, which has been pushed by business groups, undoes that change, while giving the states the option to expand the small-group insurance market if they want. 

The bill passed the House on Monday in a voice vote. The lack of controversy has raised hopes that it could be the beginning of more bipartisan changes to ObamaCare.  

Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenJudd Gregg: 'Medicare for all' means rationing for everyone The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade MORE (N.H.), the lead Democratic sponsor of the bill, said that while the healthcare law overall is working, she hopes this bill could be the start of more bipartisan efforts to make fixes. 

For example, she offered her support for repealing the law’s 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. 

“It would be nice to be able to work together to make those changes to improve the law,” she said. 

The White House said Thursday that Obama would sign the bill.

Obama has long said that he is open to changes to the law to make it work better but that do not harm its core. 

Last November, after the midterm elections, he said he would be “open and receptive” to “responsible changes to the Affordable Care Act to make it work better.” 

This story was updated at 6:09 p.m.