By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-District 5, mixed business with pleasure here Monday.
She met with about 45 local business leaders at the Flagship Enterprise Center to hear their concerns about the looming impact of the Affordable Care Act in the morning, and then stopped to visit the Indianapolis Colts training camp with members of her family in the afternoon.
Brooks called the morning session with business schools, hospital and community leaders a good "listening session."
"Starting on October 1, employers are being required to provide formal written notice about what the insurance options are for employees," Brooks said. Her question is: "Are they prepared to do that, and what are some of the challenges with the current law."
One of her concerns, Brooks said, is that provisions of the law have created unintended consequences. Some business owners said they'll cap the number of employees at under 50 to avoid aspect of the law that only applies to companies with more than 50.
Another concern is who is considered a full-time employee. Most people think of them as someone who works 40 hours per week, Brooks said. Under the Affordable Care Act, however, anyone working 30 hours per week is considered a full-time employee, and must be offered affordable coverage.
As a result, many businesses are threatening to cut worker hours to avoid penalties. Those regulations even affect schools. Anderson Community Schools announced in late June the plans to cut the hours of part-time employees such as cafeteria workers, instructional aides and custodians.
"There have to be some changes to the law because it's not working now," Brooks said.
Last month, the Obama administration announced a one-year delay in certain employer mandates becuase businesses said they needed more time to comply with the regulations.
Brooks also toured the Madison County Community Health Center, which is under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, for the amount of paid medication the center's medical staff prescribes.
The congresswoman said she's been briefed about the matter, but said it didn't come up during her tour of the facility and meetings with staff on Monday.
"I haven't made any calls or inquires to the DEA, and I don't think that would be appropriate at this point," Brooks said. "I think we need to leave it to the process to work its course and to let the investigation be completed in as expeditious manner as possible."
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