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Senate Republicans Call for Permanent Delay of Obamacare

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Senator Dan Coats
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today joined all 45 other Senate Republicans in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to permanently delay the implementation of the health care law for all Americans. After receiving concerns from the business community, the Obama administration announced last week that it will delay implementation of the employer mandate, a critical provision of Obamacare, until 2015.
In their letter the senators write to the president, “[W]hile your action finally acknowledges some of the many burdens this law will place on job creators, we believe the rest of this law should be permanently delayed for everyone in order to avoid significant economic harm to American families… Given the widely-held belief by the American people that the Affordable Care Act will not fulfill its promises and will result in higher costs for American families, we implore you to listen to the American people.” 
In addition to Coats, the letter was signed by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Jeffrey Chiesa (R-N.J.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Click here for a copy of the letter.

Below is the text of the senators’ letter.

July 10, 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama
President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:
We write to express concern that in your recent decision to delay implementation of the employer mandate, you have unilaterally acted and failed to work with Congress on such a significant decision.  Further, while your action finally acknowledges some of the many burdens this law will place on job creators, we believe the rest of this law should be permanently delayed for everyone in order to avoid significant economic harm to American families.
In response to questions about the administration’s decision, your senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said, “We are listening,” while referring to the concerns of the business community over the onerous employer mandate that will result in fewer jobs and employees working fewer hours.  We have been listening as well, and as more employers have attempted to understand your burdensome requirements in the Affordable Care Act, the louder their outrage has become.
We are also listening to the views of the American people.  A recent Gallup poll from June of 2013 showed that a majority of Americans disapprove of the Affordable Care Act.  The same survey revealed that for every one person who believes they will be better off under the Affordable Care Act, two believe they will be worse off.  Opposition to your health law is growing, and it will continue to grow as more Americans realize that the law is built upon broken promises and will result in higher health care costs and more taxes. 
Under the individual mandate, the IRS, which is still under multiple investigations for unfairly targeting conservative groups, will play a central role in the implementation of the health care law in our country.  Last fall, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that nearly six million Americans, primarily in the middle class, will have to pay a tax under the individual mandate, which was two million more than previously estimated.  When the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, the average individual mandate tax will be nearly $1,200, which clearly contradicts your previous statement that the individual mandate “is absolutely not a tax increase.” 
Further, families are facing significant increases in premiums.  Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an analysis of premiums and concluded that under your law some Americans will see their premiums “double or even triple,” which is the opposite of your promise that premiums will go down by $2,500 for American families. 
Given the widely-held belief by the American people that the Affordable Care Act will not fulfill its promises and will result in higher costs for American families, we implore you to listen to the American people.  This law is unworkable and harmful to the economy and to American families, and your actions to delay the employer mandate are an acknowledgement of this fact.  While your recent action provides temporary relief for some, we believe that all Americans deserve permanent relief from this onerous law, so that we can adopt common-sense reforms that will actually lower costs and that Americans support.
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Abused Dogs Found in Dolton, Illinois

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dolton dog 1
(Photos Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff's Office)
dolton dog 2
A 29 year old Dolton, Illinois, woman faces animal cruelty charges after the Cook County Sheriff's Police Animal Crimes Unit found an emaciated female dog outside her residence. Sheriff Thomas Dart says officers acting on a tip went to the 15400 block of East End Avenue this morning and found a total of eight pit bull mix dogs outside of Amanda Wise, some in crates and pens, with others chained to a fence, with no clean drinking water or food. Sheriff Dart says the seven other dogs discovered were in fair condition, and there was no indication of dog fighting at that location. The dogs have since been taken to a veterinarian for treatment.
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Fire at Highland Shopping Plaza Forces Temp Street Closure

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A fire this evening at a shopping plaza in the 25-hundred block of 45th Street in Highland caused a temporary closure of 45th Street, between Spring Street and Kennedy Avenue, as fire crews worked to put out the blaze. No further information is available at this time.
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City of Gary Recognized for Let's Move Program at White House

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Mary Cossey at white house
(Photo Courtesy of the City of Gary)
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a special event at the White House for  local elected officials and representatives whose cities and towns are participating in the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC) Initiative. The City of Gary was among the cities represented. Gary Housing Authority Interim Director Mary Cossey, who coordinated the Let’s Move effort in Gary, attended the ceremony at the White House.
“This has been a great day and such a humbling experience,” said Cossey. “We worked very hard on our Let’s Move events and look forward to implementing even more programs to help tackle childhood obesity.”
During the program, the First Lady, Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard K. Koh, National League of Cities Executive Director Clarence Anthony and local elected officials talked about the success in communities across the country to address childhood obesity.
“The League of Cities appreciates the support and energy of the First Lady for her tireless efforts to reduce the obesity epidemic facing our communities,” said National League of Cities’ Executive Director, Clarence Anthony. He continued, “We congratulate all the local elected officials who participated in the event and are playing an instrumental role in providing our nation’s children with a healthier future. When children grow up in cities, towns and counties that promote healthy development, they become productive and healthy adults, contributing to the prosperity of our communities.”
The City of Gary hosted a Let’s Move event at Marquette beach last summer and also hosted exercise classes for youth at the YWCA among other events.
LMCTC is a major component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s comprehensive Let’s Move! initiative, which is dedicated to solving the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. A total of 330 cities, towns and counties from 46 states and the District of Columbia, which collectively represent more than 56 million Americans, have committed to the initiative’s five goals. NLC has awarded more than 1,000 bronze, silver and gold “medals” to recognize local elected officials who have made progress in achieving these goals.
As part of LMCTC, local elected officials are working towards the following goals:

·         Goal I: Start Early, Start Smart: Promoting best practices for nutrition, physical activity, and screen time in early care and education settings
·         Goal II: My Plate, Your Place: Prominently displaying MyPlate in all municipal or county venues where food is served
·         Goal III: Smart Servings for Students: Increasing participation in school breakfast and lunch programs
·         Goal IV: Model Food Service: Implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines that are aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
·         Goal V: Active Kids at Play:Increasing opportunities for physical activity

NLC is working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Association of Counties and other nonprofit organizations, to assist local elected officials who join LMCTC as they implement policy and environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded NLC a grant to provide technical assistance to local elected officials working to create healthier communities and prevent childhood obesity, including sites participating in LMCTC.
For more information about LMCTC and Gary’s accomplishments, visit www.HealthyCommunitiesHealthyFuture.org.
The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.
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Public Comment Sought on Wabash/Porter Access Site

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INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE: The National Park Service has released the draft Environmental Assessment for “Wabash Avenue/Porter Access Site”, and is seeking public comment. Each unit of the national park system is driven by federal enabling legislation and this assessment is needed to ensure the Wabash Avenue project is in harmony with the legislative intent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Environmental Assessment evaluates five possible alternatives in depth. The alternatives addressed include pedestrian circulation, vehicle circulation, visitor facilities and parking options. The alternatives meet park purposes and objectives while protecting park resources and minimizing impacts. All alternatives are consistent with applicable NPS laws, policies, and regulations. 
Beginning July 10, 2013, a copy of the Environmental Assessment for the Wabash Avenue/Porter Access Site is available in two different formats. It can be found online at  http://parkplanning.nps.gov/indu. Also, hardcopies of the document will be available for review at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center at Indiana Route 49 and US Highway 20, and at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Headquarters located at 1100 North Mineral Springs Road in Porter, Indiana. 
The best way to comment on the Environmental Assessment is to use the electronic form located at:  http://parkplanning.nps.gov/indu. The comment period closes on August 9, 2013. Comments must be postmarked no later than August 9, 2013. If you cannot use the electronic form you may mail or drop off a hard copy comment form and/or letter to:
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Attention: Eric Ehn, Management Assistant
1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, Indiana 46304-1299

The Environmental Assessment has five alternatives under consideration. The alternatives include a No Action and four levels of modifications for visitor use and development.
Each alternative addresses the potential environmental impacts to the parks:  historic structures; cultural landscapes; archeological resources; soils, air, and water quality; vegetation; wildlife and wildlife habitat; sensitive and rare species; recreation resources; visitor use and experience; park operations; and socioeconomic conditions.
The preferred alternative, Alternative 5, would enlarge the south parking lot while restricting the north lot to accessible parking only in the summer. In the off season the south lot would be closed and all visitor use would take place from the north lot. Individual picnic platforms would be built adjacent to parking areas. Alternative 5 is the preferred because it would be consistent with the project goals.
www.nps.gov/indu
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is part of the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
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Public's Help Sought to ID St. John Theft Suspect

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st. john theft suspect pic
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
In St. John, police hope pictures of a suspect caught on surveillance video will help identify the man wanted in connection with numerous thefts from vehicles. The Times reports the thefts reportedly took place early on Sunday, near 84th Place and Christopher Drive. According to the article, the suspect used a stolen gift card later that same morning at a gas station in the 85-hundred block of Wicker Avenue. Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to contact St. John Police Detective Steve Flores at (219) 365-6032.
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IU Researchers Create the Inner Ear from Stem Cells

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IU stem cells ear
(Photo Courtesy of Indiana University)
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University scientists have transformed mouse embryonic stem cells into key structures of the inner ear. The discovery provides new insights into the sensory organ's developmental process and sets the stage for laboratory models of disease, drug discovery and potential treatments for hearing loss and balance disorders.
A research team led by Eri Hashino, Ph.D., Ruth C. Holton Professor of Otolaryngology at Indiana University School of Medicine, reported that by using a three-dimensional cell culture method, they were able to coax stem cells to develop into inner-ear sensory epithelia -- containing hair cells, supporting cells and neurons -- that detect sound, head movements and gravity. The research was reportedly online Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Previous attempts to "grow" inner-ear hair cells in standard cell culture systems have worked poorly in part because necessary cues to develop hair bundles -- a hallmark of sensory hair cells and a structure critically important for detecting auditory or vestibular signals -- are lacking in the flat cell-culture dish. But, Dr. Hashino said, the team determined that the cells needed to be suspended as aggregates in a specialized culture medium, which provided an environment more like that found in the body during early development.
The team mimicked the early development process with a precisely timed use of several small molecules that prompted the stem cells to differentiate, from one stage to the next, into precursors of the inner ear. But the three-dimensional suspension also provided important mechanical cues, such as the tension from the pull of cells on each other, said Karl R. Koehler, B.A., the paper's first author and a graduate student in the medical neuroscience graduate program at the IU School of Medicine.
"The three-dimensional culture allows the cells to self-organize into complex tissues using mechanical cues that are found during embryonic development," Koehler said.
"We were surprised to see that once stem cells are guided to become inner-ear precursors and placed in 3-D culture, these cells behave as if they knew not only how to become different cell types in the inner ear, but also how to self-organize into a pattern remarkably similar to the native inner ear," Dr. Hashino said. "Our initial goal was to make inner-ear precursors in culture, but when we did testing we found thousands of hair cells in a culture dish."
Electrophysiology testing further proved that those hair cells generated from stem cells were functional, and were the type that sense gravity and motion. Moreover, neurons like those that normally link the inner-ear cells to the brain had also developed in the cell culture and were connected to the hair cells.
Additional research is needed to determine how inner-ear cells involved in auditory sensing might be developed, as well as how these processes can be applied to develop human inner-ear cells, the researchers said.
However, the work opens a door to better understanding of the inner-ear development process as well as creation of models for new drug development or cellular therapy to treat inner-ear disorders, they said.
Additional researchers involved in the work were Andrew M. Mikosz, B.S., Andrei I. Molosh, Ph.D., and Dharmeshkumar Patel, Ph.D., of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Support for the research was provided by National Institutes of Health grants RC1DC010706, R01GM086544 and R01MH52619, a Paul and Carole Stark Neurosciences Fellowship and an Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Predoctoral Fellowship (NIH TL1RR025759).
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Read more: IU Researchers Create the Inner Ear from Stem Cells

 

Donnelly Statement on Student Loan Interest Rates

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donnelly
Washington, D.C. –Today, Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement in advance of a procedural vote on legislation that would lower interest rates on new subsidized Stafford loans.
“Access to affordable, high-quality education is critical to closing the skills gap and creating the highly-skilled workforce that meets the needs of our economy.  It is my strong belief that Hoosiers should not be burdened with unmanageable debt in order to obtain a college degree.  I will support today’s proposal to lower rates on new subsidized Stafford loans and provide students with the certainty they need to plan for their education.  I also think it is critical that we continue bipartisan conversations to find a responsible compromise that will lower rates and ensure there is a cap to protect student borrowers from unreasonable rate increases in the future. The government should not be making profits off of students trying to brighten their futures.  Our focus must be on putting their needs first.”
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Read more: Donnelly Statement on Student Loan Interest Rates

 

Sobriety Checkpoints This Weekend in Lake St and St. John

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A sobriety checkpoint will be conducted sometime this weekend in two Lake County communities. The Lake County Traffic Safety Partnership reports the checkpoints will take place in Lake Station and in St. John, and that drivers will only be delayed for about two minutes, unless there are signs of impairment from either drug or alcohol usage.
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Read more: Sobriety Checkpoints This Weekend in Lake St and St. John

 

Lake Co Man is 1st Player to Claim Top Prize in Scratch Off Game

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woodworth283
(Photo Courtesy of the Hoosier Lottery)
A Lake County man is the first player to claim a $3 million top prize on the $3 Million Jackpot Hoosier Lottery scratch-off game that launched April 30. Four top prizes remain unclaimed. Lottery officials say Ronald Woodworth, who turns 70 next week, initially thought he had won 300-thousand dollars, and it wasn't til a friend checked the ticket that he discovered he had won ten times that amount.
Woodworth works for Quintel as a driver, and says even with the windfall in the bank, he has no plans to retire anytime soon. He does plan to pay off all his bills, put new tires on his truck and make one major splurge purchase, a 1957 Chevy. He purchased his winning ticket at the Cline Avenue Food Mart in Schererville, where's he been a regular customer for 14 years.
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Pierogi Fest Makes List of 10 Wacky Summer Events in US

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A Region festival makes a national list of 10 wacky summer events in the U-S. Travel site TripAdvisor has included Whiting's Pierogi Fest, a three-day celebration of Eastern European heritage – and the half-moon shaped dumpling after which the festival is named. Happening later this month (July 26-28) Pierogi Fest draws more than 200-thousand visitors a year. TripAdvisor editors who assembled the list say all the events are all affordable off-the-wall entertainment for travelers seeking comic relief.
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Strong Storms Move Across Region

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kv storm pic
Kankakee Valley REMC says this picture was taken about 10:15 am CDT today by one of their crews at their  Morgan Substation, south of Valparaiso.  Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued around 9:30 am today for portions of northwest Indiana including Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper Counties.  Lights flickered in portions of Porter County and the power has gone for some as storms moved through. KV REMC reports an outage including 1,357 members in Porter County as of 10:40 am.
Here's the KV REMC website: http://www.kvremc.com/home.aspx
[Photo/KV REMC]
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Investigators Seek Cause of Lake Eliza Fire

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Officials continue to investigate the cause of a fire that broke out in a vacant home near Lake Eliza early Tuesday. Multiple departments responded to Starr Street around 4:30 am, and flames were reportedly visible from the roof and attic.
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Winfield Considering Curfew

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The Winfield Town Council is looking at setting up a crime watch program, and also possibly instituting a curfew, in light of recent thefts and vandalism. A curfew ordinance could be ready for council members to consider at their next meeting July 23rd. Officials want to include all subdivisions in town as well as rural areas in the effort.
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Merrillville Moves Forward on Stormwater Ctr

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Merrillville's Stormwater Management Board has awarded a provisional contract for a new building to house the town's stormwater utiilty – for less than half the two-point-one-million dollar price tag of the initial design. The board sought alternative bids, scaling down the project and size of the building, reducing costs by more than a-million dollars. The proposed building in the 7400 block of Broadway will include an education center. No construction date yet as officials are still reviewing the bid.
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Grants Sought for Valpo Building

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Renovations could be around the corner for the former Ticor Title building at the corner of Michigan and Indiana in downtown Valparaiso. The plan commission has recommended a series of grants to help pay for outside improvements including brick work and new windows.
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Work Planned for Borman Bridges

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A nearly 725-million dollar road project plan – okayed by a NIRPC (nerp-see) committee Tuesday – is reportedly the largest four-year highway improvement blueprint for Lake, Porter and La Porte Counties in a number of years. It still needs approval from the full board. It includes numerous bridge rehabilitation projects, especially along Interstate 80-94.
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New Pricing for Purdue Football Tix

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Purdue University has announced a new system for pricing their football tickets they say is already widely used in professional sports and is now being adopted at the collegiate level. The athletics department will introduce dynamic pricing for single-game tickets this year.   In the Big Ten Conference, it has been implemented previously by Northwestern and will be by Michigan this fall.
Purdue says dynamic pricing will not affect the John Purdue Club priority purchasing period that began June 20 and runs through July 14, adding to the value of JPC membership. It will begin when single-game tickets go on sale to the general public July 23. Prices will be adjusted in $5 increments and will not increase more than five times on any given day. Prices will not drop from their initial level, so fans are encouraged to purchase early.
A team of five Purdue students from the Krannert Experiential Initiative made the recommendation to utilize dynamic pricing, after compiling and analyzing single-game sales data from the last 10 seasons and sales from the secondary market over the last three years. They also talked with other universities that have implemented similar strategies. Moving forward, the university says dynamic pricing data will be used to help establish future single-game ticket prices to be more competitive with the secondary market.
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Naming Rights Available for New PNC Complex

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PNC logo
Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2014 on the new Student Services and Activities Complex on the campus of Purdue North Central. P-N-C Chancellor Doctor James Dworkin, as part of our Region News Makers interview series, says it is a 34-point-seven million dollar project, 23 million of which comes from the state, six-million comes through student fees, and the remaining three-point-seven million comes through private individuals and from corporations. Chancellor Dworkin says if anyone is interested in pursuing the 30 or so naming rights opportunities to contact him jdworkin@pnc-dot-edu.
The 70-thousand square foot complex will sit on one-point-six acres, and will be used for a variety of university events. To hear more of our Region News Makers interview with Chancellor Dworkin, visit regionnewsteam.com
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Coats: Mandate Delay Shows Need for Obamacare Repeal

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Senator Dan Coats
The following op-ed by Senator Dan Coats is available for publication:
Employer Mandate Delay Shows Need for Obamacare Repeal
Senator Dan Coats
Bowing to growing criticism, earlier this month the administration announced that it will delay until 2015 the highly unpopular Obamacare mandate requiring businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide workers with government-approved health care or face penalties.
Not coincidentally, the administration made its announcement just days before the Labor Department revealed that another 322,000 Americans involuntarily entered part-time employment in June. This report reinforces what I have been hearing from Hoosiers for months.
In all parts of the state, workers are expressing deep anxiety about losing health insurance coverage for their families and the possibility of reduced hours and smaller paychecks because of Obamacare. Meanwhile, many employers tell me they would like to expand, grow and hire more full-time workers but cannot afford to do so because of the massive fines, taxes and regulations that will hit when the law is fully implemented.
The delay of the employer mandate, a key provision of Obamacare, is evidence that even the White House is realizing the many flaws of its own health care law. While the administration has conveniently delayed this job-killing mandate on employers until after the 2014 elections, problems with Obamacare are far from solved.
The law defines full-time as 30 hours, which means employers still have a long-term incentive to employ part-time workers. For Hoosiers, this means fewer hours and lower wages at a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet.
While the recent delay may provide some relief for businesses, middle-class Hoosiers will not be spared. Health care premiums continue to rise as insurance companies compensate for Obamacare’s costly impact on their businesses. Additionally, the law contains several new taxes on middle-class Americans and stiff penalties on individuals who do not purchase health insurance that will apply beginning in 2014.
Rather than temporarily delay a bad policy, all Americans should be permanently exempted from Obamacare’s taxes and mandates.
When President Obama signed his health care reform package into law back in March 2010, he said that the reforms would “lower costs for families and for businesses” and “help lift a decades-long drag on our economy.” A law that was supposed to help workers, employers, families and our economy is doing the exact opposite.
We all want to increase access to health care coverage and lower health care costs. But Obamacare is failing to achieve these goals, making our health care system weaker, not stronger.
Congress needs to repeal the deeply flawed health care law this year and replace it with step-by-step reforms that actually lower costs and put patients, not bureaucrats, in charge of their own health care decisions.
Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana who helped write the health care law, recently expressed serious concerns about the implementation of Obamacare. Several other Democrats are starting to walk back support for provisions in the health care law and now even the administration is issuing waivers and delays.
If Democrats, Republicans and a majority of Americans agree this law is not working, then let’s do something now before Obamacare’s full impact on our economy takes effect.
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Read more: Coats: Mandate Delay Shows Need for Obamacare Repeal

   

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