Home Blogs Opinion Obamacare is for business, not for Congress

Obamacare is for business, not for Congress

| Print |  Email
Opinion
Thursday, August 29, 2013

BY JAN MEEKCOMS | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

08.29.13 Blog USHealthEarlier this month, President Obama took the unusual step of involving himself in an administrative matter that would have been otherwise handled by people many levels below the Oval Office. He personally approved a “solution” to a “problem” affecting health insurance benefits for members of Congress and their staffs.

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.

 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 RunFreeGuest 2013-08-29 18:35:28
Since when is 30 hours a week considered "full-time"? This, and the entire Affordable Care Act, is a bad precedent to set on so many levels.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
+1 #2 managerGuest 2013-08-29 18:41:22
and your solution is?
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
+1 #3 Bill, MDGuest 2013-08-29 19:36:30
UPS is using Obamacare as an excuse for cuts it probably planned to make anyways.

I understand your concerns about the cost of health insurance for the employees of small business. But what is the alternative? You talk as if this is some sort of expense for nothing, but it is providing people health insurance. How else do you plan to insure people? A single-payer plan like Medicare?
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Report Card

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Strong public schools shore up the economy, survey respondents say. But local schools demonstrate lackluster performance.


Read more...

Molecular Movies

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Dr. Chong Fang isn’t God. But the assistant professor of chemistry at Oregon State University is getting closer to figuring out how he put everything together. 


Read more...

Revenge Forestry

November/December 2014
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
BY JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG

A flare-up in the Elliott Forest raises questions about détente in Oregon’s timber wars.


Read more...

October surprise

News
Sunday, October 12, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER

Cylvia Hayes, tabloid vs. watchdog journalism and the looming threat of a Cascadia earthquake.


Read more...

A Recipe for Success

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Two businesswomen, two iconic food brands and one food-obsessed city. We thought this sounded like a recipe for good conversation. So in late August, Oregon Business sat down with Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, to discuss their rapidly expanding businesses and Oregon’s trendsetting food scene.


Read more...

The Diaspora

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

Former newspaper reporters move into brand journalism.


Read more...

College Conundrum

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

University and college tuition fees have been rising for more than a decade, while state funds for higher education have steadily declined.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS