CinemaCon: Theater Owners Begin Cutting Employee Work Hours To Avoid Paying For Health Care

DAVID LIEBERMAN, Executive Editor
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Obamacare credits could trigger surprise tax bills

President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 2, 2013. Millions of people who take advantage of government subsidies to help buy health insurance next year could get stung by surprise tax bills if they don’t accurately project their income. Starting next year, President Barack Obama’s new health care law will offer generous subsidies to help millions of people buy private health insurance on state-based exchanges, if they don’t already get coverage through their employer. The subsidies are based on income. The lower your income, the bigger the subsidy. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Affordable Care Act — also known as ObamaCare – is designed to help provide health insurance coverage for those who are least able to pay. But exhibition execs attending CinemaCon this week are quietly planning to minimize the law’s impact on them when it takes full effect in 2014, even if it means penalizing part time employees who might stand to benefit. Theaters are most concerned about a provision that requires companies to provide coverage for those working at least 30 hours a week, not just full-time employees who work at least 40 hours. So, guess what? Theaters are beginning to reduce part timers’ to less than 30 hours a week. “All of [the major theater companies] are making adjustments in the workforce,” Stephen Gooding, President of Reynolds & Reynolds — an insurance firm that specializes in exhibition concerns — tells me. When it comes to preparing for the changes “the very large circuits are ahead of the curve, but the smaller and midsized ones are just realizing and going ‘Oh, my’.” For example, Regal Entertainment has begun to cut part-timers” hours, and told managers to pin the blame on ObamaCare, according to a memo obtained by Fox News. Progressive activist group Think Progress pointedly observed that Regal’s doing well financially, and gave execs a big raise last year. Small companies can opt out of directly providing health coverage, but can only realize a savings for 30 employees. “The biggest thing that people aren’t aware of is the cost,” Gooding says. As the deadline approaches for companies to help ensure that workers’ health needs are covered “it’s now becoming top of mind.” 

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