Demands to alter Obamacare persist even as launch nears

Demands to alter Obamacare persist even as launch nears
US President Barack Obama steps off his bus upon his arrival at Tully Central High School in Tully, New York August 23, 2013.

NEW YORK - As the clock ticks down to the launch of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform, hundreds of businesses, unions and advocacy groups are still pushing to win concessions on the far-reaching law.

Restaurants want to increase the number of hours that define a full-time worker.

Unionized electrical workers are seeking to change the treatment of health plans offered by multiple employers. Medical device companies hope to end a tax against them even though they are already paying that tax.

Lobbyists face slim odds of getting any additional changes to the law before October 1, when millions of Americans will be able to sign up for subsidized health insurance through online exchanges in each state.

But there is an urgency to push for changes now, legislative experts say, because it will become much harder to do so once the law takes full effect in January. Lobbying may also give these groups leverage in negotiations down the road.

"You can continue advocating for a change, and then you can trade those chips later on for something else," said Dan Mendelson, a former Clinton Administration health official who is chief executive of advisory company Avalere Health.

"The fact that everybody knows they're unlikely to get anything will not stop advocacy."

A Reuters review of lobbying records found that more than 500 companies, business groups, consumer advocates, unions and other organisations weighed in on the Affordable Care Act during the second quarter of this year.

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