President Obama’s decisive victory in the 2012 presidential election means that few, if any, major policy shifts are likely to occur in the next four years. A key question is whether the federal government can produce any significant accomplishments during that time. This will largely depend on whether the president can forge a consensus with Republicans in Congress following one of the most contentious political campaigns in recent memory.
An immediate test for all parties will be to address the daunting economic and political challenges presented by the “fiscal cliff,” which calls for automatic steep tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts beginning Jan. 1, 2013, unless a compromise is reached. If the issues can’t be resolved in the upcoming lame duck session of Congress, they surely will dominate the legislative agenda in the early months of the president’s second term.
It’s clear that implementation of the Affordable Care Act will move forward. For employers, this means that, effective Jan. 1, 2014, they will have to either offer qualified health insurance to their full-time employees or pay penalties if even one employee receives government assistance to buy health coverage through a state health exchange. Fortunately, ASA and its coalition allies were successful in persuading the Obama administration to allow employers with “variable hour” employees to use a “look-back” period of up to 12 months to determine whether those employees have worked full-time for purposes of offering health coverage or paying penalties. The look-back is expected to substantially reduce staffing firms’ exposure to penalties for their temporary employees.
Attend an ASAPro Webinar Tuesday, Nov. 27, to learn about the latest developments on the Affordable Care Act—see below for more details.