Small Businesses Continue to Air -- and Vent -- Obamacare Opinions
The winter storm hitting the Washington area today prompted the House Small Business Committee to postpone a hearing on health-care reform, but the panel this week continued to post sometimes heated comments from entrepreneurs on the changes employers may be facing under the law.
The GOP-led panel had planned the hearing for this afternoon to explore the concerns of small businesses as implementation of key Obamacare provisions proceed. While the law has been phasing in since its 2010 enactment, provisions mandating health coverage for most Americans and, essentially, leaving many employers with 50 or more workers responsible for providing the insurance go into effect in January 2014.
The committee, which says many employers remain confused about how health reform will affect them, posted fresh comments Tuesday on the Affordable Care Act that business owners had posted to the "Open Mic" section of its website.
Here's a sampling.
"The Affordable Care Act is certainly not affordable for us as a small business in America," said Marsha Newberry, owner of a business in Grand Prairie, Texas, in a post dated last Friday. "I do understand what President Obama is trying to do, however I do not believe this is the correct answer."
"This has caused our company to examine our projects and reduce our employee numbers by eliminating the labor intense projects," she added. "All this to avoid mandated healthcare by the federal government. So we slow and or reduce our company growth to avoid complete closure of the company. Neither of these are a good solution for small business in America."
A Reno, Nevada, business owner said: "We eliminated six jobs within the company, and we will continue downsizing. We will outsource the functions previously done in house in order to stay afloat. We have no budget for this damage. If that doesn't keep us afloat, we will close our business down by September 30 this year. Eleven more people out of jobs."
Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Business, which unsuccessfully challenged Obamacare in the U.S. Supreme Court, issued a release Tuesday previewing other testimony that small business owners had planned to provide the House Small Business Committee.
Hugh Joyce, owner of the James River Heating and Air Conditioning Co. of Richmond, Va., had prepared to tell the panel that the health reform law's penalty structure and compliance requirements "act as a disincentive for many to provide coverage at all. There will be significant unintended consequences as the provisions cascade out over time," according to the NFIB release.
The Small Business Committee also had expected to hear testimony from Louisa McQueeney, the general manager and CFO of Palm Beach Groves, a Lantana, Fla., fruit-shipping business representing the Main Street Alliance, a small-business group that pushed for passage of the health reform law.
The government's health.gov website and the White House's blog posted an interview last year with McQueeney, who said the Affordable Care Act was helping because of a tax credit for certain small businesses that provide coverage to employees.
The tax credit had allowed Palm Beach Groves to lower its health insurance cost for the first time in 12 years, according to the White House "Louisa-care" blog post.
Dinah Wisenberg Brin is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She has covered business, politics, healthcare and general news for wire services, newspapers, blogs and other publications.