U.S. Senate Moving on Health Insurance Bill for Seasonal Workers in Golf

The U.S. Senate is moving quickly to pass its version of healthcare reform (H.R. 3590) by Christmas. The golf industry is concerned about a provision in the bill to require most employers to provide insurance to seasonal workers or be fined. The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) has created an action alert to help members share their concerns with lawmakers about the treatment of seasonal workers in the Senate bill.

Of particular concern to the golf industry, the current version of the bill in both the House and Senate would require most employers to provide insurance to seasonal workers or be fined. Another concern is a provision that would require golf facilities with more than 200 employees to automatically enroll new hires into their insurance plan without a probationary period. Golf facilities with 50 to 200 employees would only be allowed to have a 30-day probationary period before they are forced to add new hires to the insurance plan.

According to the GCSAA, the nature of seasonal employment is incompatible with the process of enrolling workers in employer-sponsored health plans. The association believes that administrative burdens on employers will be great, and the expansion in coverage will be negligible since many seasonal employees, even if enrolled quickly, will move on before the advantage of coverage can be taken. These provisions will certainly raise the insurance costs and administrative expenses incurred at golf facilities with high turnover rates.

The GCSAA is urging its members - including those utilizing the H-2B program - to contact and send letters to their U.S. Senators before Christmas to share their concerns about the treatment of seasonal workers in the Senate's healthcare reform bill. These added costs could be quite significant to golf facilities and small employers throughout the country already struggling in a time of economic downturn.

For additional information, contact Chava McKeel, GCSAA senior manager of information and public policy at cmmckeel@gcsaa.org or 800/472-7878, ext. 3619.

The above article originally appeared in GCM NewsWeekly, an e-publication of the lf Course Superintendents Association of America (www.gcsaa.org).

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