Franchise Association Takes to the Hill to Encourage Healthcare Law Changes

The International Franchise Association's annual legislative fly-in comes at a time when its members are concerned about the Affordable Care Act putting them on the hook for more health insurance costs—and when lawmakers from both parties seem ready to both listen and act.

From McDonald’s to Dunkin’ Donuts, franchisees were knocking on doors all over Capitol Hill this week.

Their goal? To redefine the definition of a full-time employee in the eyes of the law—specifically, the healthcare law.

As part of its annual fly-in, many of the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) members spoke to hundreds of legislative offices about the needs of its industry and made a push to reform the Affordable Care Act. More details:

If implemented as is, this requirement would have a tremendously adverse impact on the small business owners in the franchising industry.

Why it hurts: The association says that, in its members’ cases, the various costs of being a franchisee eat into budgets, and the Affordable Care Act would increase the pain—particularly the provision, set to go into effect in 2015, that requires businesses with more than 50 full-time workers to offer insurance to its full-timers, defined by the law as staff working at least 30 hours per week. “If implemented as is, this requirement would have a tremendously adverse impact on the small business owners in the franchising industry, which includes restaurants, retailers, hotel and service-related industries,” association president Steve Caldeira wrote in an op-ed for The Hill.

What’s out there: IFA has focused its energy on multiple pieces of legislation, including the Save American Workers Act, a straight repeal of the 30-hour definition of full-time proposed by Representative Todd Young (R-IN) and cosponsored by 113 members of the House; and the Forty Hours Is Full Time Act, which would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and change the definition of a full-time worker to an employee who works 40 or more hours a week. The latter bill, making progress in the House and Senate and encouraged by an IFA-produced website, has bipartisan sponsorship from Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) in the House, and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

Other groups’ backing: Beyond IFA, the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the Retail Leaders Industry Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and others have spoken in favor of such a change to the law. The groups have kept up pressure on this point for the past two years. “This 30-hour issue is beginning to resonate on both sides of the aisle. Since it has been pushed off now for more than a year, it could mature before the end of this year, and we could increase pressure on the issue,” Neil Trautwein, vice president for the National Retail Federation, told The Hill.

It’s not all bad news on the healthcare law front for these groups; like many other retail groups, IFA came out in favor of a proposal by the U.S. Treasury Department to ease reporting requirements on businesses. But, like the others, the group plans to continue lobbying in hope of more change.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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