Messer to propose bill protecting schools from healthcare law

Rep. Luke Messer
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An Indiana congressman plans to introduce legislation shielding schools from penalties incurred by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Congressman Luke Messer (R-Indiana) told Education Secretary Arne Duncan Tuesday he will introduce legislation to protect schools from insurance mandates and penalties from the act, commonly known as "ObamaCare."

The legislation will allow local school districts to continue to provide health care to their employees without incurring penalties under the act.

"It is unconscionable that the Federal government is taxing schools to help pay for the President's health care law," Messer said. "At at a time when school budgets are tight, we cannot continue to wait for the Senate to act while this law takes dollars out of our classrooms."

Messer says local school officials have told him they will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if they are forced to offer healthcare to every employee, which the law will require next year. Shelbyville Central Schools estimate a loss of $800,000 and Southern Hancock Schools say their costs could run as much as $450,000.

The extra healthcare costs may lead to reduced work hours for substitute teachers, teachers' aides, cafeteria workers and others.

The employer penalty goes into effect in January if Messer's bill doesn't pass.