Sen. Lamar Alexander — a Tennessee Republican — is now the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
The committee’s new Republican leaders today held their first health-related hearing: a look at how regulators applying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) employer mandate ought to define “full-time” workers.
H.R. 30, a bill that would set the minimum number of hours in a full-time workweek to 40 hours, from 30 hours, has attracted support from some Democrats in the Senate as well as Republicans.
See also: Two freshman House Democrats buck the party.
The HELP hearing was collegial but dominated for the first time in years by witnesses chosen by the Republicans.
Witnesses and senators spent much of their time giving their general views on the employer mandate.
Alexander started the hearing by describing employers that have said they are cutting some workers’ hours to avoid having to worrry about providing minimum essential coverage (MEC) for those employers.
Sen. Sheldon White House, D-R.I., said the Republicans themselves are to blame for any complications that occur because of the full-time worker definition. “I’m all for getting rid of this problem by going to a universal health care system,” Whitehouse said.
But witnesses also shared some data on how the PPACA employer mandate is working in the real world.