Thursday, September 9, 2010

Health Care Reform Update: IAAPA submits comments on tax credits, menu labeling

IAAPA recently submitted comments to two regulatory bodies on rulemakings under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (health care reform).

The comment period ended last week on tax credits for small businesses not subject to the employer responsibility provisions, but choose to offer their employees health insurance anyway. Generally speaking, IAAPA supports these tax breaks. However, the bulk of IAAPA's comment focused on the definition of "seasonal worker."

As you may remember, the definition of a seasonal worker and the applicability of the employer responsibility provisions to seasonal workers are somewhat ambiguous in the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. The attractions industry relies on seasonal workers to staff peak times, but unlike a regular full-time or part-time employee, a seasonal worker is unique in that he or she works a lot of hours in only a few short months. The rulemaking on the small business tax credit presented an opportunity for IAAPA to request a clarified definition of "seasonal worker" as one who works fewer than 120 days.

This week we also filed a comment with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a proposed rule on menu labeling at resturants and other food retail outlets. Under the health care law, businesses that have 20 or more outlets, operating under the same name and serving substantially the same menu items, must post information about calories, fat content, and other nutritional information on menus or menu boards. This requirement also applies to vending machines.

IAAPA's comment focused on mobile handcarts, which may serve a variety of items but have limited surface area available to post nutritional information. Since much of the proposed rule is statutory (that is, in the law), the agency does not have the power to "overturn" the menu labeling provisions, but it does have discretion in areas where the law is ambiguous.

We encourage IAAPA members to read both our of comments, which can be found on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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