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Fighting Over the Health Care Law by the Hours

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Republican proponents of raising the workweek threshold for employee coverage under the Affordable Care Act to 40 hours per week include Collins, who plans to introduce a bill dealing with this aspect of the law.

Despite such projections, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said he would encourage colleagues to back the Young bill as part of a drive for full repeal of the health care law. “Anything that helps to expose and undermine the law is a step forward,” he said.

Young said he hoped to woo Democrats such as Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, who has a similar proposal that would insert new numbers in the law without repealing any sections. The measure has six Democratic co-sponsors.

Lipinski said he likely would support Young’s version on the floor. He predicted the fate of any proposal would depend on whether “businesses that are impacted by this can come in and reach out to Democrats and convince them that this is a good change to make.”

Collins has pursued a measure similar to Lipinski’s bill in the Senate, with 13 co-sponsors, including two Democrats: Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.

Collins said she doubted many employers would cut back the hours of full-time workers just to save on health care benefits but that there is a strong argument for consistency in the workweek standard. “That’s what employers are used to. That is what they accept. That is what they expect,” Collins said.

Or, as Manchin puts it, “Forty hours has always been the standard.”

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