The Herald Bulletin

January 25, 2014

Donnelly, Brooks support ACA changes

Changing definition of full-time employment sought

By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Two Congressional members of opposing political parties are attempting to make changes in Obamacare concerning what is considered full-time employment.

During interviews this week with The Herald Bulletin, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District, both indicated they are seeking changes in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

As defined in the ACA, a full-time employee is anyone who works 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month to be considered eligible for health care insurance through their employer.

Donnelly said he has co-sponsored legislation to change the ACA definition of full-time employment back to 40 hours.

“There is a given assumption that full-time employment is 40 hours,” he said.

Donnelly said to consider full-time employment at 30 hours is not a reflection of how employers view a full-time employee.

He said at the 30 hour per week level, people saw their work hours reduced.

“We’re trying to get those hours back,” Donnelly said. “There is an understanding between businesses and their employees that full-time is 40 hours.

Donnelly said many Democrats want to leave the ACA as currently written and Republicans want to repeal it.

“We don’t want to repeal it, we want to make it better,” he said.

Medical costs increased only 3.7 percent in 2012, the last year data is available, which is the lowest percentage increase in decades, Donnelly said. He said in 2007 the increase was more than 6 percent.

“As a percentage of the GNP (gross national product) health care costs went down,” Donnelly said.

Brooks said Republicans want to remove the 30-hour definition of a full-time employee.

“We can repeal that part,” she said of the ACA. “But it won’t happen with this administration. The pieces that are hurting the people the most, how can we take it out of the legislation?”

Brooks said she was concerned about the security of the government’s website for people to enroll in the health exchanges. She said it takes a long time to restore credit and records in the event of identity theft.

Donnelly said changes should include a provision for health insurance companies to cross state lines, making insurance more affordable.

He hopes Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can reach an agreement to expand Medicaid in the state.

He said the Healthy Indiana Plan is only providing insurance coverage for 36,000 people, leaving up to 400,000 residents with no coverage.

“It both sides will be flexible we can have better health care in Indiana,” Donnelly said. “We’re 41st in the nation when it comes to health care; we can do a lot better.”

Both Donnelly and Brooks want to see the repeal of the Medical Device Tax, meant to generate revenues for other parts of the ACA program.

“There is bipartisan support in the Senate,” Brooks said. “It’s sitting on (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid’s desk.

“It affects a lot of Hoosier jobs,” she said.

Donnelly said he favors elimination of the tax, but there has to be a plan in place to pay for the lost revenues.

Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.