Legislation would repeal auto-enroll mandate

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – Industry groups are throwing their support by legislation that would repeal the auto-enroll requirement of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

US Reps. Richard Hudson and Rober Pittenger introduced HR 1254, or the Auto Enroll Repeal Act. If passed, the bill would repeal a requirement that would require certain employers to automatically enroll full-time employees in company health plans if employees do not opt out. Similar legislation was introduced in 2011. That bill would have repealed a requirement that new employees of certain employers be automatically enrolled in a company healthcare plan.

Robert Rosado, director of Government Affairs for the Food Marketing Institute, wrote in support of the legislation.

“Food retailers and wholesalers employ 3.5 million full-time, part-time and seasonal workers – many operating under fluctuating work schedules in order to meet employee needs and varying consumer demands," Rosado wrote. "Given the diversity of the industry’s employee base, FMI strongly supports H.R. 1254, legislation that ensures associates are responsible for opting-in if they wish to take advantage of an employer’s health care benefits.

"The Affordable Care Act’s mandatory, auto-enrollment provision creates confusion when associates do not want employer coverage, such as when a parent or spouse already covers the associate, but the employee fails to opt-out of the auto-enrollment process and the employer is required to deduct a premium from the employer’s paycheck."

The National Restaurant Association argued the auto-enrollment requirement could cause financial hardship for companies and create confusion.

"Some compare automatically enrolling employees in health benefit plans to automatically enrolling them in a 401(k) plan, but this isn't a good parallel," said Angelo Amador, NRA vice president for labor and workforce policy.

Amador said that an employee's share of a health care premium could be significantly higher than the average automatic 401(k) contribution. Also, employees can retrieve 401(k) contributions when they opt out of auto enrollment, while contributions to health plans cannot be retrieved, Amador said.

The auto-enrollment rule "adds a layer of bureaucracy and burdens businesses without increasing employees' access to coverage," Amador said.

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