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House committee to mark up two Obamacare-related bills

Feb. 3, 2014 at 2:00 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Two more bills that seek to alter the Affordable Care Act are in the works in one of the most powerful committees of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The House Ways and Means Committee will meet Tuesday to begin marking up a bill that would repeal the ACA's definition of "full-time employee" and one that would eliminate language requiring municipalities treat volunteer firefighters as employees who must be offered health insurance, the Hill reported.

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, requires companies to offer health plans to workers when they have more than 50 full-time employees, and defines a full-time employee as one working 30 hours or more a week.

Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., the main sponsor the Save American Workers Act, would restore the 40-hour definition.

Young maintains the definition creates an incentive for companies to only allow people to work 29 hours a week. By reducing workers' hours, companies can stay under the 50-employee threshold and avoid fines for not providing insurance, he and other critics of the requirement said.

"Americans are seeing their hours cut and their paychecks reduced as a result of the employer mandate, a centerpiece of the law," Young said when he introduced the bill last June. "We were promised this bill would create jobs, and evidence that the opposite is happening is apparent every day."

The sponsor of the second bill, Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., says the IRS has indicated it will treat a community's volunteer firefighters as full-time workers, meaning they must be offered insurance, the Hill reported. Barletta says many towns aren't prepared for the additional expense.

He said he also asked the IRS for more clarification, but the IRS hasn't responded.

His bill is backed by the National Volunteer Fire Council, which says municipalities don't have the resources to cover benefits for volunteers and that volunteers generally don't expect to receive benefits anyway.

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