Donnelly played key role in Obamacare delay

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Obamacare requirement affecting small businessmen is on hold. Those who employ 50 people or more won't have to provide health insurance until 2015 instead of 2014, and an Indiana Senator played a key role in the change.

Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly recently joined with Maine Republican Susan Collins to introduce a bill that would exempt small businesses from the insurance requirement. He didn't expect such a quick reaction.

There are just 15 employees at Westfield Lighting but, even there, Obamacare has been the source of confusion and uncertainly. Owners Mike and Nancy Hutson are reluctant to expand and health care costs are big reason why.

"We're hesitant to hire right now," says Mike, "just because we don't know what our cost structure is going to be."

The Obamacare delay means one thing at Westfield Lighting — health care costs will be predictable for the next 18 months. Senator Donnelly says that's good for employers and employees. Just last month he spearheaded an effort to exempt small businesses from the Obamacare requirement.

Indiana Congressman Luke Messer introduced a bill to exempt schools and they get a reprieve now, too.

Appearing outside a Fishers restaurant, Donnelly said he still supports Obamacare.

"What we're trying to do is make it so small businesses have more time to make their decisions," he said, "have time to get more information, and make it work."

The Donnelly bill also defines full-time as 40 hours per week. The Obamacare definition is 30 hours per week and before this delay many employers were planning to cut the hours of part-time workers. Donnelly says he will continue to pursue the bill.

He says it’s not about politics. But that message doesn't sell at Westfield Lighting.

"I think of politics more than dollars," says Mike Hutson. "I think they just want to push this out past the election so they can take it off the table."

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