East Porter schools join Indiana's Obamacare lawsuit

2013-12-09T18:00:00Z 2013-12-10T06:48:07Z East Porter schools join Indiana's Obamacare lawsuitBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
December 09, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | East Porter County School Corp. has joined a state-sponsored lawsuit seeking to invalidate a portion of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller claims the Internal Revenue Service cannot be allowed to enforce the "employer mandate" of the health law because it could lead to the federal government assessing tax penalties on local governments, such as school districts, if they don't provide qualifying health benefits.

Fifteen Indiana school districts were listed as plaintiffs when Zoeller's suit was filed in October. East Porter is among 24 additional school corporations that joined the lawsuit Monday. It is the only Northwest Indiana participant.

East Porter Superintendent Rod Gardin said the district agrees with Zoeller's position.

"The IRS is overreaching its boundaries," Gardin said. "We don't believe the IRS can impose a penalty or a fine on another governmental entity."

Earlier this year, the Kouts-based school corporation was preparing to cut hours for 45 of its 350 employees to ensure the district did not fall under the health law's mandate that large employers provide health coverage to all employees working at least 30 hours a week.

The School Board halted those cuts in July after the Obama administration announced it was delaying enforcement of the employer mandate until at least 2015.

Zoeller said the delay gives courts time to determine whether the federal government is entitled to impose tax penalties on other government employers.

"Our state should be protected as is constitutionally guaranteed from federal government overreach under our American system of federalism, and the participation of so many school corporations in the challenge reflects mutual concern that this principle has been undermined by the IRS's actions," Zoeller said.

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