Businesses react to Obama's admin delay of requirements for healthcare law
Reported By Chris Bundgaard, Reporter - bio | email
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
Businesses and healthcare watchdogs around Middle Tennessee are offering different takes on Wednesday's decision by the Obama administration to delay some provisions of the new health care law.
Steve Richards, who has a paper and digital shredding and document storage company called Richards and Richards on Nashville's Elm Hill Pike, was like so many small business owners when he heard the news.
"It's still a nightmare, a lot of questions keep me up at night," he told Nashville's News 2. "I am not the least bit surprised that it will take an extra year, and I would not be surprised if there was another next year. It's going to be very difficult for them [the government] to start moving efficiently."
"I am not sure if they are going to make the components come together," added the business owner.
The company already provides full medical insurance coverage to its 55-workers says Richards, but he worries if he can keep doing it with company premiums continuing to rise.
Another take on the delay of businesses having to provide health insurance coverage with 50-or more full time workers came from the health care watchdog group called the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC).
The group has traditionally been an advocate for the 1.3 million Tennesseans on the state's Medicaid program which is called Tenncare.
TJC lawyer Chris Coleman told Nashville's News 2 that he has "read good bits" of the 974-page Affordable Care Act that is often known as Obamacare.
He said the "employer mandate provision that (U-S) Treasury delayed Wednesday applies only to employers with 50-or more employees.
"This will have very little effect on any individual person," said the health care lawyer.
Nationwide there are only about four-percent of business that have 50-or more employees. Of them about 95-percent of them already offer health insurance to their employees.
Coleman said it was difficult to translate exact numbers for Tennessee, but "we are talking about a very small percentage of employers that employ about one-percent of the workforce nationwide who would be subject to penalty for not providing health care coverage" by the January 1, 2014 deadline that has now been pushed back a year.
"The big problem was that the 95% of those firms that do provide health insurance to their employees still had to comply with the reporting requirements" [under the law about the kind of coverage provided], added Coleman. "These are very burdensome, very complicated reporting requirements and Treasury listened and said we are going to be flexible."
Business owner Richards says it would be more economical to drop health coverage for his workers, but won't consider that unless rates skyrocket to where it would not be viable for his company.
"It's cheaper and I could actually take more money home if we did that," he added.
Richards did some quick math saying his health care costs for each of his workers is about "five to six thousand dollars annually, so if I pay the $2,000 fine for not providing coverage, I go home with an extra $3,000 in my pocket."
It's a question long asked about the health care law with no clear answers yet.