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National Restaurant Association - NRA urges restaurateurs to contact Congress on health care law

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NRA urges restaurateurs to contact Congress on health care law

Concerned about the impact of the 2010 health care law on your business? Tell Congress.

Restaurateurs need to make sure Congress understands the health care law's effect on restaurant businesses and ask legislators to make adjustments to the law before the end of 2013, National Restaurant Association Chairman Phil Hickey told NRA members July 23.

Hickey and other NRA leaders led a webinar for NRA members to outline some of the restaurant industry's biggest challenges with the law.

Hickey said that the NRA has provided extensive educational resources to help restaurateurs comply with the law but that restaurateurs remain confused and uncertain. "Our industry, like businesses of all sizes across the United States, finds itself scrambling to figure out what is required under the new law."

Hickey said the Association is organizing a widespread grassroots campaign to help lawmakers understand the problems the law can cause.

"Lawmakers think they understand the advantages and disadvantages that the law creates, but frankly, they don’t. And they don’t understand the urgency in addressing our challenges,” Hickey said.

"The majority of legislators don’t understand how restaurants operate. It is critical that that they comprehend what this law will do to ... if left untouched and how critical it is that we provide legislative adjustments before the end of 2013."

He encouraged restaurateurs to email or call their legislators, or meet with lawmakers during Congress's August recess, to urge the following changes:   

  • Rewrite the law's definition of full-time employment (currently defined under the law as 30 hours a week) so that it is more in line with current employment practices and reflects workforce needs. 'There is no other federal law that sets full time at 30 hours," said Michelle Neblett, the NRA's director of labor and workforce policy. Read more.
  • Simplify the calculation for determining whether a business is "large" and thus covered by the employer mandate. The definition of a large employer under the law is based on a complex 12-month calculation to  determine whether an employer has 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees -- a calculation unique to this law and not easily implemented in large shift-work environments. The annual calculation is unnecessarily complicated and will sweep millions of small businesses into its reach. Read more.
  • Eliminate the auto-enrollment requirement. This provision of the law will require employers with 200 or more full-time employees to automatically enroll full-time employees in a plan unless they opt out within 90 days of hire. This could cause financial hardship and greater confusion about the law for employees, and place a significant administrative burden on restaurant operators. Many employees are likely to inadvertently miss opt-out deadlines and will be automatically enrolled in their employer's health plan, causing  significant, unexpected financial hardship. Read more.

Tell your story to Congress. Find out how.

The health care law has a particularly profound impact on the restaurant and foodservice industry: Restaurants are labor-intensive, have low profit margins, and employ a significant number of part-time and seasonal employees. This makes the law more difficult for restaurateurs to comply with than for many other employers.

The Obama Administration's decision to delay the employer mandate and some employer reporting requirements until 2015 will give operators some more time to understand their compliance obligations and implement them but does not change the fundamental challenges operators face in implementing the law.  

While the delay is helpful, it does not alleviate the Affordable Care Act's challenges, Hickey said. "Elected officials in Washington need to know that the law can’t stand in its current form, and need to come together in a bipartisan way to adjust the law before the end of 2013," Hickey said.

"We need your help to move the politics in Washington and help lawmakers see that they must come to the table and fix these problems in a bipartisan way now."

Sample letters and other information for restaurateurs are available at AmericaWorksHere.org/Healthcare.

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