Donnelly hopes one-year delay in health coverage mandate will provide time to improve law

Opponents see opportunity to fight for repeal

INDIANAPOLIS - The delay of a key provision of the health care act could mean changes are ahead for the controversial law, or it could just stretch out the battle for another year.

The Obama Administration has postponed the requirement that employers with 50 or more fulltime workers provide insurance coverage. 

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, has been trying for several weeks to get the administration to fix the provision of the law that refers to fulltime employees.

He said he's pleased and surprised that it happened so soon.

Donnelly visited a Fishers restaurant Wednesday and talked about the change.

Before the postponement announcement, many businesses were planning to cut workers back to fewer than 30 hours to keep them from being mandated to provide coverage.

Donnelly said the one-year delay could provide time to pass his bill to solve that problem by increasing the definition of fulltime to 40 hours a week.

He said it's difficult putting together support for improving the law.

"You have people on one side saying, 'Well, we don't want to do anything because then it would be a challenge to the health care bill.'  Well, our challenge is to fix the health care bill to make it work the best for Americans. And on the other side you have people who are saying, 'Well, we don't want to do anything to try to help the health care bill, because all we want to do is repeal it.' Well, that's not the answer, either. The answer is to have a health care program that makes sense for Hoosiers and for Americans," Donnelly said.

But many Republican Congressional leaders and business advocates want to use the next year to work to repeal the law altogether.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar said he doubts that will happen, but he thinks changes in the law are a real possibility.

"I think we may see repeal of parts of it. And we may see substantial changes. And we may see Congress overriding the rules that are developed and saying, 'No, that's not what we meant,' or, 'No, this is unworkable,'" Brinegar said.

Donnelly thinks the one-year delay should provide enough time to fix what's wrong with the law. 

But opponents believe that time would be spent better trying to repeal it altogether.

Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6

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