By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
---- — When Congress reconvenes next week, Indiana Sen. Dan Coats will be pushing for a vote to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Open enrollment for the health exchanges is scheduled to begin on Oct. 1, but Coats and fellow Republicans believe the entire legislative package should be delayed.
Coats, R-Ind., wants to repeal the health care law so it can be replaced by better reforms, but is opposed to calls by some Republicans to shut down government operations, Tara DiJulio, his communications director, said.
“Sen. Coats believes the strategy should be to fully delay the entire health care law, like passed by the U.S. House, and then let the American people decide Obamacare’s fate in 2014,” she said of the upcoming mid-term elections.
DiJulio said Coats supports legislation that would defund provisions in Obamacare if the health care exchanges are not ready to enroll qualified Americans by the deadline.
Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is supportive of the president’s decision to delay for one year penalties to employers of more than 50 people who are not able to provide health insurance.
Donnelly is co-sponsoring legislation with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that would change the definition of a full-time employee in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to someone who works an average of 40 hours per week or 174 hours per month.
Currently, the Affordable Care Act defines a full-time employee as someone who works an average of at least 30 hours per week.
Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District, said the House made the right decision in voting to delay implementation.
“I don’t believe the exchanges are ready, I don’t believe anything is ready to go,” Brooks said. “The president delayed the mandate for businesses; we took the vote because we didn’t believe he had the authority to delay it. We voted to delay it for businesses and individuals.”
She said people should be pressuring the Senate to delay implement of the Affordable Care Act.
“We should delay a lot of things,” Brooks said. “Continue to delay and dismantle the ACA. Repealing is not a realistic probability.
“People should be concerned it’s creating the uncertainty we knew it would create,” she said.
Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th District, said the House-passed legislation to delay both the individual and employer mandates of the Affordable Care Act is awaiting action in the Senate.
“What is clear is that Hoosiers oppose this train wreck and the politics of 2014 elections weigh heavily on (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid’s mind,” Rokita said. “So, if (President) Obama and Reid think a delay is advantageous politically, you can see it coming out of negotiations this fall over a continuing resolution and the debt ceiling.”
Rokita said what action will be taken remains unclear.