Thursday, December 09, 2010
Independent Contractor Status At Risk For Emergency Physicians
As Congress tries to complete work for the year, several bills are being considered and funding must be found to offset their costs. The Senate is considering a menu of funding mechanisms that could be used to pay for the legislation under consideration. One source of offset funding under consideration is The Fair Playing Field Act of 2010. Currently, the law allows businesses a safe harbor to treat workers as independent contractors for employment tax purposes if the company has had a reasonable basis for such treatment and has consistently treated such employees as independent contractors by reporting their compensation on Form 1099s.
As proposed, The Fair Playing Field Act would require the Treasury Secretary to issue regulations or other prospective guidance clarifying the employment status of individuals for federal employment tax purposes. It specifically allow the Internal Revenue Service the ability to individually question independent contractor status.
How would this impact the delivery of Emergency Care?
If enacted, this provision could have a negative impact on the delivery of emergency care by harming the ability of independent contractor emergency physicians to provide much-needed staffing of emergency departments throughout the country. Restricting the ability of hospitals to staff their emergency departments using emergency physician independent contractors could have dire results for patients' access to lifesaving emergency care.
Please contact your U.S. Senators and urge them not to attach The Fair Playing Field Act to any other bill during the lame duck period and/or use its provisions as an offset to legislation under consideration.
Thank you for your prompt action.
Questions: Contact Brad Gruehn in the ACEP Washington DC office.