Congressional committee members come to Indiana to discuss health care laws

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GREENFIELD (Sept. 4, 2014) - Several members of Congress were in the Hoosier State on Thursday for a special hearing on the issue of health care.

The House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions came to Greenfield City Hall for a field hearing called “The Effects of the President’s Health Care Law on Indiana’s Classrooms and Workplaces.”

Subcommittee chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) was in attendance with several Indiana lawmakers, including Rep. Luke Messer, who invited his colleagues to Greenfield for the hearing.

Messer introduced legislation dealing with the Affordable Care Act’s effect on schools, and specifically, the mandate to provide insurance for anyone working 30 hours a week or more.

“This rule, the 30-hour rule, is something that really gets in the way,” said Ivy Tech president Tom Snyder. “This means some large number of (adjunct faculty) would have to be shifted into health care. It’s not affordable, because we’d have to pass that cost on to the students.”

Zionsville’s chief financial officer also testified, telling lawmakers about a popular middle school softball coach who had quit coaching because of the new regulations.

“The former coach was successful, respected and a great role model, but wasn’t allowed to coach anymore because that would put him over 29 hours a week,” said Mike Shafer with Zionsville Community Schools.

“It’s just not fair to the working class honestly that we have hard working people who have had hours taken away,” said Vigo County superintendent Danny Tanoos.

“It’s not fair to pay for the President’s health care law on the backs of our students and our schools, particularly at times where kids are cash strapped,” said Messer. “If we really care about kids we need to do something about it. That’s why I’ve authored legislation that would exempt schools.”

But others felt the hearing was more about politics- with only Republican lawmakers in attendance.

“It’s good to have a hearing,” said Anderson Federation of Teachers president Tom Forkner. “I would have been happier, I suppose, if we had more representation from the other side.”

“We certainly invited Democrats today (and) it was our hope that they would come,” said Messer. “What today is about, though, is to get beyond the rhetoric and let Hoosiers tell us their story of what the impact is today.”

One doctor who testified was critical of Republican lawmakers.

“The real fear in this room today is not the ACA is somehow going to ruin this country, it’s the fear that the members here, including Mr. Messer, have that as the ACA goes forward and people are helped by it, they’re going to want to go further and not back,” said Dr. Robert Stone of IU Health, who testified on his own behalf. “As people come to appreciate the ACA, they’re going to vote against politicians who are trying to repeal it and take it away from them.”

“Our children and working families deserve better,” said Roe. “It’s clear we need to set aside the President’s health care law and start over with real reform.”