Officials for trade groups representing nursing homes are asking the Health and Human Services Department for a waiver that would allow the facilities not to provide health insurance to their employees.
The American Health Care Association, a trade group for nursing homes, is lobbying to get an exemption from the measure. AHCA President Mark Parkinson said that nursing homes depend on Medicare and Medicaid for revenue, but the programs' low reimbursement rates make it difficult for the organizations to provide health coverage to workers.
Many health care attendants, who make between $10 and $12 an hour, could not afford the high premium rates for insurance provided through the homes. Under the law, premiums that exceed 9.5 percent of the employee's income would be deemed unaffordable. In that case, the home could risk a penalty.
Parkinson, a former Democratic governor of Kansas, is asking HHS to give nursing homes to get more time to comply with the health law's requirements -- or at least a break on the penalty for not providing affordable coverage; mid-sized facilities that fail to provide insurance could face a $200,000 penalty.
Another industry trade group representative, William Dombi, vice president of the National Association for Home Care, said that the penalties and huge premium costs would put an extra burden on his members.