Delayed health care implementation brings relief to Indiana businesses

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Local business owners are responding to the surprising move by President Obama’s administration, delaying the Affordable Care Act from going into effect for another year.

For some concerned business owners, the news comes as a welcome surprise. That’s because small business owners with more than 50 employees would be required to provide insurance coverage for employees who work more than 30 hours a week.

“The key word is affordable,” said restaurant owner Ed Sahm. “There needs to be affordable health care across the board.”

But Sahm says- for many businesses – paying for more health care just isn’t possible. Sahm himself employees around fifty employees at the restaurants he owns personally, but with a new catering business in the works, he would have over 50 employees on staff.

“The restaurant business and service business model in general can’t afford to pay that, on top of normal business operation,” said Sahm.

Indiana Chamber president Kevin Brinegar said the law could force many businesses to consider other options.

“Cutting back hours, laying off employees entirely, this portion of the law has been clearly identified as a jobs killer,” said Brinegar.

But then came Wednesday’s surprising announcement, delaying the law’s implementation.

“It came as kind of a pleasant surprise,” said Brinegar. “Businesses are relived.”

And so is Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), who visited Sahm’s restaurant Thursday to talk about the health care issue.

Sen. Donnelly had been hoping for a delay – he voted for the health care bill but now he’s pushing a measure many businesses support, one that would define a “full-time worker” as one that works 40 hours a week, eliminating the requirement mandating insurance coverage for part-time workers.

“We were in Lafayette yesterday where a lot of people who work for the school district were cut back from 35 hours to 29 because of the law,” said Donnelly. “The school district said ‘it’s not that we want to do that, we just don’t have the funds right now to cover the difference.’”

Supporters say Donnelly’s proposal could also save jobs, which might otherwise get eliminated if employers had to insure part-time workers too.

“It’d be easier to comply, it’d be easier to understand,” Brinegar said of the proposal, which was co-authored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Still, Brinegar and others, like Sen. Dan Coats (R-Indiana), are hoping the delay leads to an outright repeal.

Sen. Coats issued this statement about the delay:

“This news is evidence that even the Obama administration is realizing the coming train wreck of its own health care law. While the administration has conveniently delayed this job-killing mandate on employers until after the 2014 elections, Obamacare remains an unwanted burden on Hoosier families and individuals. Rather than delay a bad policy, all Americans should be permanently exempted from Obamacare’s taxes and mandates. We need to repeal the deeply flawed health care law and replace it with step-by-step reforms that actually lower costs and put patients, not bureaucrats, in charge of their own health care decisions.”

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