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Health insurance bill stirs controversy

Fresno leaders joined forces Tuesday to oppose Assembly Bill 880. They say it's a job killer.
Fresno leaders joined forces Tuesday to oppose Assembly Bill 880. They say its a job killer and would lower the threshold at which point companies would have to provide health insurance coverage for part time workers.

Local leaders are working to put a stop to AB 880. It would affect any employer with more than 500 employees on a state funded medical program, like Medi-Cal.

The bill would fine employers if they don't provide health insurance, even for workers who are only working eight hours per week

"When you rush recklessly in Sacramento, you get bills like this and all too often they become law," said former Fresno Mayor, Alan Autry.

George Gonzalez is a labor contractor who oversees hundreds of workers. He fears what the new bill could mean for his future. Ag leaders say the additional costs could be anywhere from $6,000-$15,000 per employee.

"We don't know what's going to happen. It's stiffer penalties, tougher on employers and ranchers," said Gonzalez.

Growers and others say the federal law, Obamacare isn't even in full effect yet.
"Here we are we haven't even implemented the federal side of things and yet we have the state trying to add additional burdens onto businesses," said grower, Ryan Jacobsen.

Obamacare allows large corporations to cut employee hours to avoid paying for health insurance for part-time workers. Supporters of the bill say that's not fair and leaves taxpayers with the bill.

"These industries are the retail and restaurant industries. By far, those are the largest industries that are creating the problem here," said Steve Smith with the California Labor Federation.

Supporters say the bill would only affect those on taxpayer-funded medical programs.

"It's either going to be the taxpayer, or it's going to be this company chipping in a little bit and paying it's fair share," said Smith.

The bill could be voted on within the next few weeks.
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