It’s been three years since Obamacare was passed – and so far, the response from small business owners is a mixed bag.
On Wednesday, the House Small Business Committee heard testimony from small business owners and economic experts on effects of the law.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) opened the testimony saying Obamacare has had a negative effect on small businesses’ perceived ability to grow and thrive in this economy. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey showed 75% of small businesses predict Obamacare will raise their costs; another survey by Newtek Business Services found 65% don’t yet have a strategy for managing their health-care costs.
And just attempting to deal with the paperwork associated with the Affordable Care Act has hurt businesses, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Ph.D. and president of the American Action Forum. According to his calculations, the “ACA’s red tape alone costs the U.S. approximately $4.9 billion annually, a figure that will grow as the pace of implementation quickens this year.”
Small Businesses Speak Out
The small business owners at the hearing had mixed experiences with Obamacare, though they agreed that certain aspects should be changed for the good of companies across the country.
Kevin Tindall, owner of Tindall & Ranson Plumbing & Heating, said,
“The continued rise in the cost of providing health care insurance absolutely stifles my ability to create, provide and sustain job,” said Tindall. “I have yet to understand how we as a nation can continue to state that we need to create more jobs, yet challenge, threaten or even ignore the very mechanisms for job creation.”
Tindall said he experienced insurance renewal costs over 9% for both 2011 and 2012, and did not qualify for the small business tax credits, because the average salary at his company is over the $50,000 threshold.
Bill Gouldin, the president of Strange’s Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers, already offered health insurance to full-time employees working over 37.5 hours per week – and was paying 100% of the premiums. But he says that the rising costs of doing so has kept wages down at his company.
Gouldin is concerned the mandate to provide insurance for employees working 30 or more hours per week will cause employers to cut hours or jobs altogether. He suggested lawmakers raise the cutoff to 37.5 hours per week.
At least one advocate of the Affordable Care Act agreed with Gouldin that changes should be made to the law.
Louisa McQueeney, the CFO of Palm Beach Groves, has already benefited from the act: She said her health insurance costs have been cut by 12%, thanks to tax credits, insurance rebates and flat renewals.
That said, McQueeney is dismayed that more small businesses aren’t able to take advantage of the credit, since it’s limited to businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees and average wages under $50,000.
“Why not expand that FTE requirement to 50, 75 or even 100 employees, and increase the salary cap?,” she said. “You have an opportunity to help so many more small businesses throughout the country with the small business health care tax credit.”