The spending bill, which President Obama signed into law on December 18, made changes to the H-2B visa program, and suspended the Cadillac tax and medical device tax associated with the Affordable Care Act for two years.
The National Club Association has released an update on its take on the passing of the omnibus appropriations bill on December 18, which granted “clubs several key victories on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the H-2B Visa Program.”
Key changes to the H-2B visa program included:
- Exempt H-2B workers who were issued H-2B visas in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from counting toward the annual cap of 66,000
- Increase H-2B employment periods from nine months to 10 months
- Prevent the implementation of the “three-fourths guarantee,” which requires clubs to pay H-2B wages to workers for at least three-fourths of the full-time work hours in a workweek
- Prevent the implementation of the requirement for clubs to pay “corresponding” workers the prevailing wage for their position
- Prevent the implementation of the requirement for clubs to pay for “corresponding” H-2B workers’ inbound and outbound transportation costs and subsistence
- Permit the use of private wage surveys
Other portions of the bill that may affect clubs include the two-year suspension of the “Cadillac tax,” pushing the tax’s implementation date from 2018 to 2020. The “Cadillac tax” is a 40% excise tax on high-cost insurance policies. For self-only plans, a 40 percent tax will be levied on each dollar spent over a threshold of $10,200. For family plans, this threshold is raised to $27,500. The medical device tax, which is a 2.3 percent tax levied on medical device manufacturers, will be suspended until 2018. For many clubs (and their employees), this tax has caused their insurance premiums to increase.
The omnibus bill also provides for a one-year suspension of the annual excise tax imposed on health insurance providers. The tax would not apply for calendar year 2017. The health insurance tax (HIT) is passed down to clubs in the form of a two to four percent premium hike on each health care plan.