NRF looks to Congress to resolve health care reform concerns

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation told a congressional panel that retail and chain restaurant companies continue to have serious concerns about the Affordable Care Act and remain worried by the quickly approaching deadlines for full health care reform implementation, anticipated for January 2014.

“Our nation — particularly employers — cannot afford for the ACA to stumble out of the starting gate,” NRF VP and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein said in prepared testimony. “We fear that as time diminishes between now and January 2014, a cascade of additional last-minute regulations will create added confusion and thus could encourage more employers to back out of coverage.”

Trautwein is scheduled to testify before a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the “Challenges Facing America’s Businesses Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” There he will share NRF’s contention that Congress should mitigate the adverse impact of the ACA by redefining full-time coverage eligibility to 40 hours, from the current 30 hours, and reiterate NRF’s call on Congress and the Administration to delay ACA implementation for up to one year.

“NRF strongly supports efforts to redefine full-time coverage eligibility at 40 hours per week, hopefully with flexibility for employers to define a lower standard, if they so desire,” Trautwein testified. “We respectfully urge that this and other steps to help soften the impact on employers be taken before the ACA is fully implemented.”

While NRF has consistently opposed the ACA, it has also engaged in discussions with the Administration, federal regulators and Congress on the unique ACA-specific challenges confronting the retail and chain restaurant industries. Similarly, NRF initiated a concerted effort to educate and engage its broad-based membership and other stakeholders on the law’s many requirements, restrictions, provisions and penalties.

“NRF stands ready to help the Administration and Congress make the ACA more workable, so long as it remains the law of this land,” Trautwein said.

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