- GOP may change presidential nominee process
- GOP, Democrats can't agree on Benghazi investigation
- Boehner to appoint select Benghazi committee
- Retired justice proposes changes to Constitution
- Obamacare under attack as conservatives eye 2016
- US Senator joins critics of federal cattle roundup
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- Official: Obama to push for more overtime pay
- US warns Russia over rising Ukraine tension
- Governors: 'Obamacare' here to stay
- Venezuelan voices on the troubles in their country
- Ukraine's Tymoshenko speaks to protesters
- Gay marriage issue flares in Kentucky Senate race
- Ryan says he is keeping his options open for 2016
- Applications for jobless benefits rise to 339K
- White House: Stimulus bill was good for economy
- Democrats seek to turn stand on issues into votes
- AG urges restoring voting rights to ex-inmates
- Employers scrutinize latest health care concession
- A fresh start for Hillary Clinton and liberals?
- US easing immigration rule for terrorist support
- Biden: No obvious reason not to run in 2016
- Clinton warns new Iran sanctions could upend talks
- Obama: Job training must reflect changing economy
- Democratic push to raise minimum wage a longshot
- Obama plans executive action on jobs, retirement security
- Poll: People see Obama as nice guy, so-so prez
- Report: NSA maps pathway into computers
- House ready to OK government-wide $1.1T budget
- Majority of Congress members now millionaires
- Unemployment benefits bill clears hurdle
- Poll: Americans have little faith in government
- Light bulb ban set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2014
- Obama presidency beset by fits, starts in year 5
- American abducted in Pakistan calls for US help
- NSA leaker: Mission is already accomplished
- Obama focuses on a tough year's ups, not its downs
- Mayor John Cranley: We are going to have a streetcar
- Clinton will decide on 2016 sometime next year
- Improving US economy leads Fed to ease stimulus
- White House task force urges limit on NSA snooping
- Judge: NSA program is likely unconstitutional
- Obama to meet with tech CEOs amid NSA concerns
- Wastebook report singles out $30B in federal spending
- Debate on plane phone calls moves on, gets bigger
- Budget deal to cut deficit over 10 years
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- A look at the congressional budget agreement
- Senate holds talkathon over Obama nominees
- How Volcker Rule would limit banks risky bets
- Budget deal aims to avert another shutdown
- Boehner to Run for Re-Election
- State Senator Eric Kearney Resigns from Democratic Ticket
- President and First Lady Depart for South Africa
- Tech giants call for controls on gov't snooping
- Obama's fixer-upper website races to catch up
- Mayor-Elect Nominates Permanent City Manager
- Governor Kasich Leads Challenger FitzGerald in Poll
- Council Member Waives Right to Recount, Saves Taxpayers Thousands
- Cranley Announces Choice for Vice-Mayor
- FitzGerald & Kearney Make Official Ohio Governor's Race Announcement
- 'Stand Your Ground' Proposal Clears Ohio House
- Father of Congressman on Leave Speaks Out About Family Issues
- Florida Congressman Pleads Guilty After Cocaine Arrest
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- Results Mixed for School Districts
- Property Tax Cut or Sales Tax Hike in Hamilton County
- Quinlivan Talks About Council Defeat
- Immigration Reform: House Will Not Talk on Senate-Passed Bill
- Cranley Confirms: City Manager Dohoney to Resign by December 1st
- Cranley: I Have Not Asked City Manager to Resign
- Ohio Legislator Proposes Pay Increase for Thanksgiving Workers
- McConnell promotes alternative to 'Obamacare'
- Obama: 'I'm sorry' Americans are losing insurance
- Critics: Some Unions Could Get Break From Fees
- Mapping Cranley's Victory
- Election Winners and Losers in the 2013 Campaign
- Mayor-Elect Outlines Vision for City
- High court wrestles with prayer in government
- Mapping the Votes in the Cincinnati Mayor's Race
- Maine Woman Beats Husband in Election
- Cincinnati School Board Race
- Issue 4: Cincinnati Pension Reform
- Issue 1: Hamilton County Library Levy Passes
- Issue 2: Hamilton County Zoo Levy Passes
- Cincinnati Reacts to Mayoral Race
- Race Results for Cincinnati City Council
- Qualls Loses to Cranley to Become Cincinnati's 69th Mayor
- John Cranley Speaks After Being Elected Mayor of Cincinnati
- Warren County Campaign on Candidates and Deciding Issues
- Voters Decide Oak Hills School Levy
- Qualls and Cranley Make Last Minute Campaign Push
- Federal Appeals Court Will Hear Arguments on Liquor Ban
- #YourVoice2013 Complete Election Coverage
- Most Watched Polls Across America
- Lakota Tries to Pass Levy After Three Defeats
- Qualls and Cranley Face off in Mayoral Race
- Voters Decide Zoo and Library Renewal Projects
- Light Voter Turnout this Election Day
- Cincinnati's Mayoral Candidates Vote
- Couple Seeking Same-Sex Divorce in Kentucky
- Retirements Increase Due to Issue 4
- Low Turnout Expected on Election Day
- Obamacare: Memo reveals health care adviser warned W.H. was losing control 3 years ago
- Birth Control Mandate Against Some Religions
- Dirty Politics in Trustees Race Surprising Candidates
- Report: Obama campaign considered replacing Biden with Hillary Clinton
- Sorting Through the Clutter of Tri-State Health Premiums
- President Obama Defends Health Care Law
- Congress Gets Apology for Troubles with Healthcare Website
- Senator Easing Fears Another Shut Down Won't Happen
- Hollywood Attraction to Senate Race
- Database Cleared of Duplicate Voter Registrations
- Government Hires Local Law Firms for Workers
- Waste Watch: Proposed 30% Raises for Elected Officials Raises Questions
- NSA Causes International Outrage
- Issue 4 Pension Reform
- Report: White House stopped phone tapping of foreign leaders this summer
- Ohio Senate Considers Pet Protection Orders
- Should Lawmakers be Drug Tested?
- Advocates hopeful about restoring voting rights to Ky. felons
- City Council and Mayoral Candidates Go At It
- National Security Official Fired over Twitter Account
- Merkel calls Obama to complain about surveillance
- Gay Marriage Activist Dies
- Republican Approval Rates Take a Hit after Shutdown
- Obama addresses widespread health care problems
- Newsmakers, Sunday, October 20th
- Obama to talk about health care signup problems
- AP sources: 476,000 Obamacare applications filed
- Local Man's Political Aspirations Draw Threats
- Results of nearly week-long poll question on government
- Powerful conservative group endorses Matt Bevin
- Ohio governor 'optimistic' on Medicaid expansion
- Ex-House speaker Tom Foley dies at 84
- House Worker Escorted Out After Yelling During Vote
- Federal Workers Back in Business
- President Urges Cooperation as Federal Workers Return to Jobs
- White House: Furloughed Workers Can Return to Work
- Government Shutdown Over
- Obamacare Sign Up Under Way
- Deal reached to avoid default and open government
- Senator: Deal to avoid default and open government
- Furloughed Workers Can Send Creditors a Note from Government
- GOP senator says deal in hand to avoid default
- House Postpones Vote on Bill to Reopen Government
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- House GOP floats counter to Senate debt plan
- House GOP Work on Separate Funding Bill
- Senators Closing in on Deal to Reopen Government
- Optimism on Ending Gov. Shutdown?
- No Deal in Government Shutdown
- 20 Sponsors Dropping Boy Scouts
- House GOP, White House Seeking End to Budget Fight
- Boehner's District Feels Pain of Shutdown
- Debt Limit Debate
- Obama Likely to Sign Debt Extension
- President and GOP to Meet over Government Shutdown
- Experts Say History is a Guide to Government Shutdown
- 2013 Cincinnati Mayoral Debate
- Hints of a Truce in Government Shutdown
- Doctor is Audited After Comments on Health Care
- Cincinnati Mayoral Race Preview
Employers scrutinize latest health care concession
Updated: Tuesday, February 11 2014, 10:11 AM EST
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It may take weeks to render a verdict on the Obama administration's latest health care concession to employers.
But that could make a difference for Democrats battling to keep control of the Senate in the fall congressional elections.
All-important details are buried in more than 200 pages of dense Treasury regulations released Monday. The biggest change is that medium-sized firms got another delay in a heavily criticized requirement that they cover their workers or face fines.
The administration said companies with 50 to 99 employees will have an additional year to comply, until January 1, 2016.
For businesses with 100 or more employees, the so-called employer mandate will still take effect in 2015. But other newly announced provisions, dealing with technical issues such as the calculation of working hours, may help some of those firms.
The mandate was originally supposed to take effect this year.
More than 90 percent of companies with 50 or more employees already cover their workers without the government telling them to do so, but the debate has revolved around the potential impact on new and growing firms. Most small businesses have fewer than 50 workers and are exempt from the mandate. However, employer groups were also uneasy with a requirement that defines a full-time worker as someone averaging 30 hours a week.
Republicans trying to take control of the Senate in the November elections have once again made President Barack Obama's health care law their top issue, casting it as job killer. They want to use the employer mandate to build that case, with anecdotes of bosses reluctant to hire a 50th worker, or slashing the hours of low-wage workers who need to pay household bills. Monday's moves by the administration seemed calibrated to reduce that risk.
The reaction of business groups was mixed.
"These final regulations secured the gold medal for greatest assistance to retailers, and other businesses, and our employees," said Neil Trautwein, a vice president of the National Retail Federation.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was unimpressed, calling it more of a respite than a fundamental change.
"This short-term fix also creates new problems for companies by moving the goalposts of the mandate modestly when what we really need is a time-out," president Thomas Donohue said in a statement.
The administration still hasn't issued rules for reporting requirements on business and insurers, the nitty-gritty of how the coverage requirement will be enforced.
Administration officials and the law's supporters said the concessions were the sorts of reasonable accommodations that regulators make all the time when implementing major new legislation. The Treasury Department said Secretary Jack Lew was well within his legal authority in making the changes.
"This common-sense approach will protect employers already providing quality insurance, while helping to ensure that larger employers are prepared to meet their responsibility to their hard-working employees," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
But Republicans said they smelled fear.
"It is clear Democrats don't think they can survive politically if Obamacare is allowed to fully go into effect," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., who as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee oversees the tax penalties enforcing the mandate.
The law passed in 2010 required employers with more than 50 employees working 30 or more hours a week to offer them suitable health coverage or pay a fine. The coverage requirement was originally supposed to have taken effect this year.
But last summer the administration announced a one-year delay, the first sign of potential problems with the rollout of the health care law.
Since then it's been a gigantic crisis management drill. The new online signup system at HealthCare.gov was crippled by technical problems for the better part of two months last fall. Separately, millions of people who were already buying health insurance individually had those policies cancelled because the plans did not meet the law's requirements.
With the online system mostly fixed, supporters of the law are hoping to turn around public opinion.
When it comes to the impact on jobs, "the big concerns that have been raised by opponents of the Affordable Care Act amount to very little because large employers already think it is in their best interest to provide coverage to their workers," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a liberal advocacy group.
In other provisions announced Monday, the administration said:
- Companies will not face fines if they offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015, although they will have to ramp that up to 95 percent by 2016. The law defines "full time" as people working an average of 30 hours a week per month. That concession is expected to help firms who have a lot of workers averaging right around 30 hours.
- Volunteer firefighters and others who give of their time will not be considered employees under the law. Some volunteer fire departments worried they might have to shut down if forced to provide health insurance.
- Adjunct faculty members at colleges will be deemed to have worked 2 hours and 15 minutes for each hour of classroom time they are assigned to teach. Officials said that means someone teaching 15 hours a week in the classroom would be considered "full time" and eligible for coverage, but someone teaching 12 hours may be considered part-time.
- A one-year delay in a requirement that employers offer coverage to dependents of full-time workers. Companies that are working to meet the goal will have until 2016 to comply.
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