Big money behind misinformation on healthcare law

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I’m sure that Ralph had also read the statement by the South Carolina state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) following the Supreme Court ruling in which he insists that now that Obamacare has been ruled constitutional there will be an “onslaught of taxes and mandates” on small businesses that will result in “job losses and closed businesses.”

It turns out that Ralph is retired living along South Carolina’s coast but he has a brother in Pennsylvania who owns a small business with less than 10 employees. I learned that his brother does offer health insurance to his employees. So it was natural for Ralph to be concerned for his brother’s business.

I don’t blame Ralph for being concerned. For over two years the NFIB has been misleading the small business community and public on this issue. The organization spent about $4 million in fighting Obamacare in the Supreme Court arguing that the law was unconstitutional. Now with that line of attack gone, all the NFIB has left is continuing to lie about what the law does.

So I explained to Ralph that businesses with fewer than 50 employees, which account for 97 percent of all businesses, do not have to offer health insurance to workers and will not be penalized if they don’t. Therefore there can be no job losses or closing of the doors for these small businesses due to Obamacare. 

I also explained that there are no other taxes imposed on these small businesses but there are health insurance tax credits available to millions of small businesses like his brother’s who offer healthcare to their employees. “Do you think your brother could use some tax credits,” I asked Ralph.  “I’m sure he can,” was the response.

I asked Ralph to have his brother call me so I could help him on the tax credit issue. I also thanked him for calling and told him that I wish I could have a civil conversation with everyone who has concerns about Obamacare. It has been my experience since the law passed in 2010 that when I have the opportunity to have such conversations with individuals or small groups, the fears fall away.

But the real question is why do supporters of the reform have to continue to correct the misinformation being spread by organizations like the NFIB which are suppose to represent small businesses. Why did the NFIB work so hard and spend so much money trying to kill a law that has already benefitted hundreds of thousands of small businesses that have received the tax credits and will help in other ways to make health insurance more affordable when the law fully goes into effect in 2014.

The answer is money. 

According to a Public Campaign analysis of IRS 990 filings from the NFIB and NFIB Small Business Legal Center for 2009-2011, the NFIB organizations have had dramatic increases in contributions since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. But the new-found wealth is not from dues of the average NFIB member. The IRS filings show that the NFIB organizations received $10 million from just 10 contributors in 2010. In the previous year the largest individual contribution was just $21,000. News reports have identified the conservative and superpac Crossroads GPS as one of the NFIB contributors in 2010 giving $3.7 million. 

It is clear that the NFIB is acting on behalf of its partisan big contributors and not their members such as Mike Roach. Mr. Roach is one of the small business owners receiving the tax credits. He owns Paloma Clothing in Portland, Ore, and is a NFIB member for 36 years. In March Mr. Roach told the United Press International that “tearing down the law won’t help us; it would hurt….repealing the Affordable Care Act would send us back to the Dark Ages of health insurance.”

So while the Supreme Court Ruling is the end of this story as to the constitutionality of Obamacare, it is not the end of the political story and certainly not the end of the NFIB lies that are intended to scare people like Ralph and his brother. That is what the NFIB is being paid to do.


Knapp is the president & CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. He is also the vice chair of the American Sustainable Business Council. 

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