Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee mounted a unified defense last week against a House-passed bill (HR 30 and S 30) that would relax the Affordable Care Act’s employer play-or-pay rules by defining a full-time employee as one who works 40 hours a week instead of 30. While Republicans hoped to use the Jan. 22 hearing to build support for the change, panel Democrats were steadfast in their opposition, suggesting that GOP leaders may have difficulty finding the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation. The White House has pledged a veto if the bill reaches the president’s desk. Whether the legislation could attract enough votes needed to override a veto and become law is unclear.
This Thursday, the committee will hold a hearing on employer wellness programs that is expected to consider the EEOC’s recent enforcement actions.
As employees begin preparing their 2014 federal income tax returns, employers may field requests for help documenting an employee's health coverage or the cost of offered and declined coverage. Employees who were covered during all of 2014 indicate this by simply checking a box on Form 1040, but those who weren't must pay a penalty or demonstrate eligibility for an exemption from this ACA mandate. One of the exemptions applies when employer-sponsored coverage is not affordable to an otherwise-eligible employee. A new IRS publication explains the individual shared-responsibility mandate and exemptions.