House Votes to Change
Health Law’s Definition of
Full-Time Worker

Raising Workweek Requirement to 40 Hours Sets Up First
Big Partisan Fight of New Congress

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives voted to ease requirements for when employers must offer workers health insurance by changing the health law’s definition of a full-time worker, setting up one of the first big partisan fights of the Republican-controlled Congress.

The vote was 252-172.

Some 12 Democrats joined 240 Republicans to vote yes, while 172 Democrats voted no. It would change the definition of the workweek to 40 hours from the law’s current threshold of a minimum 30 hours a week. Some hotels, retailers, and other businesses have cut workers’ hours to escape the law’s requirement to provide health care to full-time workers.

The measure faces a high barrier to enactment. Senate Republicans have yet to line up the six Democratic votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles.

The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill,

saying that there was “no evidence” the law had caused a broad shift to part-time work to date. The White House has also complained that raising to 40 hours the point at which employers are required to provide health insurance could create an incentive to reduce worker hours.

The vote reflects the long political shadow cast by the 2010 health law, President Barack Obama’s signature achievement. Republicans have never liked the law and were able to tap into public frustration with a bumpy implementation over the past year and a half to win decisive victories in the 2014 midterm elections. With the largest Republican majority in the House since the 1920s and newly in control of the Senate, Republicans are intent on following through on their pledges to dismantle the law.

Source: Wall Street Journal: House Votes to Change Health Law’s Definition of Full-Time Worker