U.S. Chamber of Commerce Drops Crusade Against Obamacare
It was three years ago this month, during his annual State of American Business address, that the Chamber’s president and CEO, Tom Donahue, labeled the ACA “unworkable” and called for its repeal. During last week’s address he softened his views, calling instead for business-friendly adjustments to the new law.
“The administration is obviously committed to keeping the law in place, so the chamber has been working pragmatically to fix those parts of Obamacare that can be fixed -- while doing everything we can to make regulations and mandates as manageable as possible for businesses,” Donohue said during the speech. “In 2014, we will work to repeal onerous healthcare taxes; repeal, delay or change the employer mandate; and give companies and their employees more flexibility in the choice of health insurance plans.”
Acknowledging that outright repeal of the employer mandate -- already delayed until January 2015 -- is unlikely, the Chamber’s executive director, Katie Mahoney indicated that the group might be satisfied with some modifications. Specifically, the Chamber wants a change to the law’s definition of full-time employees from those working 30 hours a week to those working 40 hours or more. Under the ACA, large employers with 50 or more full-time employees must provide them with health coverage starting next year.
Another change would be to simplify how businesses determine if they fall into the large employer category. She said the current calculation, which takes into account part-time hours, for instance, is confusing for many small businesses.
Mahoney added that the chamber, which represents the interests of more than 3 million businesses, would also like to see the ACA's health insurance tax and medical device tax repealed and will explore how the law's transitional reinsurance fee might be financed in a different way.
Defending Donahue’s new willingness to work within the framework of the ACA, Mahoney said “The landscape's very different. We've been through the Supreme Court decision, we've been through another election, and the President is going to be in office for another three years and this is his signature domestic policy,” she elaborated. “So I think to say otherwise would be irrational.”
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