Dunkin' Donuts Pushes for Obamacare Rule Change

Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013 05:14 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Dunkin’ Brands — the owner of Dunkin’ Donuts — is working to overturn a major provision of Obamacare.

The company, based in Canton, Mass., is lobbying the White House to change its definition of full-time work from at least 30 hours a week to 40 or more per week, CEO Nigel Travis told the Financial Times.

The change would leave Dunkin' and other companies with fewer workers to insure under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

Under the Affordable Care Act, large employers must provide health coverage to all full-time workers and their dependents or face a penalty.

The Obamacare mandate applies to all companies with 50 or more full-time employees.

The penalty for not providing coverage is $2,000 per worker, The Financial Times reports.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the nonpartisan policy group based in Washington, employers would end up paying an average of $4,664 for insurance for a single worker and $11,429 for a family.

David Dillon, chief executive of the Cincinnati-based Kroger supermarket chain, also told The Times that some companies might pay the penalty because it was cheaper than the actual insurance cost.

“If you look through the economics of the penalty the companies pay versus the cost to provide coverage, the penalty’s too low, or the cost of coverage is too high, or the combination is wrong,” he said.

“If [policy makers] get those things too far out of balance, everybody will have to reconsider their position on that point, including us,” Dillon added. “But we’re going to wait and see how that all develops.”

Numerous companies have responded to Obamacare mandates by saying that they would reduce the number of employees on staff, cut back hours, or shift healthcare costs to workers, The Times reports.

Employees may instead buy private coverage subsidized by the government on new insurance exchanges.

Several restaurant chains — Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Denny’s among them — have said they would respond to Obamacare by cutting worker hours.

And Darden Restaurants, which owns the Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains, made some full-time workers part time in a test last year, but changed course after attracting negative publicity.

The company has not ruled out a broader shift to part-time work, The Times reports.

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