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|Thursday, August 29, 2013|
BY JAN MEEKCOMS | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
The problem was Obamacare, and the solution was to declare that the policymakers and staffers who pushed the law through Congress could still receive ample federal health insurance subsidies that were supposedly reserved for lower-income families.
It is a perfect irony that so many of the same lawmakers and staffers who forced Obamacare on the rest of us, when faced with the having to pay for it, decided that it might not be worth the cost.
Most of us aren’t so lucky. This includes those of us in the small-business community who will be forced to face and pay for some of the law’s most complex and expensive provisions. And unlike Congress, we won’t be granted a reprieve.
The law requires all employers with 50 full-time equivalent workers to offer a government-approved, high-end insurance plan or pay a fine, which for many will be the cheaper option. When you’re struggling to turn a profit each month, the latter may be the more prudent long-term decision.
Other options that small-business owners are considering include cutting their workforce to below 50, or cutting back hours so more workers will be considered part-time, although Obamacare doesn’t make it that simple, because it defines full-time worker as those clocking in at 30 hours a week. As employers adjust by cutting hours and cutting workers, it is businesses and families that ultimately suffer.
Smaller businesses, too, are subject to a litany of new taxes, mandates and regulations that will cost even ones that employ only a handful of people thousands in compliance costs—not to mention the costs of aspirin for all the headaches employers can expect. One of the largest tax increases in the law, the Health Insurance Tax, will predominantly hit employers and employees in the small-business community.
Larger businesses are acting preemptively to avoid the looming costs of the law. The news is filled with stories about companies shedding workers, cutting hours and slashing benefits. UPS, for example, recently announced that because of the ACA, it would cancel coverage for 15,000 spouses. Forever 21, a clothing retailer, announced plans to eliminate most of its full-time workforce. Restaurants, hospitals, local governments and colleges are taking similar steps.
Could this be the future, a mostly part-time economy in which good benefits are rare? Economists can’t agree, of course, but recent jobs reports show a pronounced increase in part-time employment and very little growth in full-time jobs.
Of equal concern is the individual mandate, which will impact every American who buys insurance in the individual market—including a vast majority of small-business owners. The individual mandate—a tax, as was determined by the Supreme Court last year—takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014. For many, it will mean higher premiums or fines. There are no exemptions or delays.
And on October 1, in compliance with another Obamacare requirement that each state have a health-insurance exchange, Cover Oregon will open for business. Although small business hopes it will offer easy access, choice and affordability while becoming financially self-sustaining, that’s a pretty tall order, especially given the difficulties other components of the law have had.
Obamacare is the law of unintended consequences. Despite its name, the Affordable Care Act is raising the cost of insurance for almost everyone who pays for it now. It threatens full-time work that is the pathway to the middle class. But perhaps most dangerously for the U.S. economy, the law creates obstacles for small-business owners no matter which way they turn.
Hiring more people would trigger massive new costs. So they’re in a holding pattern, trying somehow to compete without growing.
Jan Meekcoms is Oregon state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s largest small-business association.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LORI TOBIAS
Business has been good to Laura Anderson, leading some to suggest she must be awfully lucky to find such success in a business notorious for failure. But luck’s had little to do with it.
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
Oil is gushing out of the U.S. and Canada, and much of it is coming from places that don’t have pipeline infrastructure. So it’s being shipped by rail.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.
Friday, October 24, 2014
How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!
Friday, October 31, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Why are there so few transportation startups in Portland? The city’s leadership in bike, transit and pedestrian transportation has been well-documented. But that was then — when government and nonprofits paved the way for a new, less auto centric way of life.
Friday, September 12, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
I often talk about what leaders can do. What about followers? If you’re a team member and you’d like to add positivity to your team, what might you do?
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