Bill would exempt schools from employer mandate

Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) has introduced legislation to exempt school systems from the healthcare law's employer mandate.

Messer said the measure would prevent K-12 school districts, colleges and universities, and state and local education agencies from higher expenses.

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"If we really care about our kids and their education, we will do something about it. This bill will stop the harmful ObamaCare tax on school districts, save jobs, and ensure more money is left in school budgets for teacher development and student learning," Messer said.

The Indiana Republican, a freshman member, argued that many public schools across the country have already faced budget cuts in recent years. 

"At a time when school systems across the country are strapped for cash, it is not fair to pay for the president's health care law on the backs of our students and teachers," Messer added.

The employer mandate, which was originally set to begin this year but was delayed, requires all businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance. Businesses with 100 or more full-time employees will have to start providing health insurance by 2015, while 50-99 full-time employees must start offering coverage in 2016.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) said that the healthcare law would inadvertently impose costs on public education.

"Too often Washington forgets that federal policies unrelated to education can still burden our nation’s classrooms," Kline said.

The bill, titled the Safeguarding Classrooms Hurt by ObamaCare’s Obligatory Levies (SCHOOL) Act, includes a provision requiring the Department of Education to study the measure's impact on schools' academic opportunities.