By Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) - 09/30/13 10:53 PM EDT
The president’s healthcare law is being implemented over the objections of the American people and in defiance of common sense. There are no longer any doubts: The cost is too high, the promises are hollow, the planning is poor and the administration is not ready, despite three years to prepare. The consequences are grim for small businesses and many of their employees.
Last Thursday, the administration announced another missed deadline, this time postponing the small-business exchange online enrollment, just days before today’s originally scheduled opening of the exchanges.
The law is already revealing a litany of broken promises and bad consequences.
The administration’s July decision to exempt some from the law, but not fairly delay it for all Americans, began with a missed deadline for the Small Business Health Option Plans (SHOPs), and added to the confusion for small businesses. In March, the Department of Health and Human Services decided to deny employee choice options in the SHOPs until 2015.
In June, a Government Accountability Office report that I requested confirmed the administration was ill-equipped for the implementation of the SHOPs, showing potential for “implementation challenges going forward.” Earlier this week, the administration announced the failure of some states to have small-business exchanges ready. By now, even the architects of the law should be willing at least to delay its implementation entirely, if not support repeal of this poorly designed law.
Additionally, small-business owners across the country continue to face uncertainty about the law and what it means for them. Consider this comment from Paul Stanley of Mount Pleasant, S.C.:
“How come there’s relatively little media coverage [regarding] the promise of lower premiums that has actually become large and unaffordable increases in premiums? The premiums will just grow larger I am sure as all the hidden cost[s] of the gov’t plan are revealed. Unfortunately, we will need to pass more and more of the premium cost on to the employees, which they can’t afford, or eliminate coverage entirely. It is a misnomer to call it the Affordable Care Act.”
Whether paid by employers or individuals, premium costs are out of control under the law’s exchanges. Younger men can expect a steep 97 to 99 percent price increase, while younger women will see a 57 to 62 percent hike. These are not isolated numbers, but the national reality.
Americans cannot afford this kind of fiscal blow during a very slow economic recovery. It’s a prescription for many Americans to choose fines for not complying instead of premiums they simply cannot afford. Americans shouldn’t be forced into such a miserable choice.
The president’s often-repeated promise that the law would actually save families $2,500 a year is obviously false. Americans will spend $621 billion more on healthcare because of the law over the next 10 years, Forbes reports. It works out to an additional $7,450 by 2022 for a family of four.
An equally cynical broken promise is the “if you like your plan, you can keep it” fallacy. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated 7 million to 8 million people will lose their employer-based insurance.
The list goes on and on. We all know that uncertainty is a major barrier to small-business growth. Imagine what all of this confusion is doing to American small business, and ultimately to our economy.
This far-reaching law is costing jobs. Many businesses admit they are not hiring because of it, and many employees are losing much-needed hours. That is the great irony of this healthcare law: It hurts many of those that it was purported to help most.
The requirements of the healthcare law are the No. 1 concern of small businesses in the most recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce quarterly survey.
Small businesses are facing dramatic swings in premium prices. Here’s another example from a small-business owner who contacted our committee: “We filled out [a] financial calculation sheet using the same coverage we currently have. The cost for coverage went from $37,850.00 per year to $188,000.00 per year – almost a 500% increase. I can’t afford to pay this amount! My agent said I could stop offering coverage and let the employee[s] go to the exchange to get coverage. I feel offering insurance has helped me keep good people and this may cause me to lose them. We are a small group of people that like working together and the ACA law could have significant negative effects on my people and company,” said David Carpenter of Southwest Specialty Heat Treat, Inc., Wytheville, Va.
In April, a chief architect of the law, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), openly worried that the law was headed for a “train wreck.”
Americans are paying a steep price for Washington’s broken promises. They deserve better.
Graves has represented Missouri’s 6th Congressional District since 2001. He is chairman of the Small Business Committee and sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.