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Small businesses cite fears over Obama health law

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Requirements of President Obama’s health care law were small business owners’ top concern this past quarter, ousting “economic uncertainty” from the top spot it has held for the last two years, according to a quarterly study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

More than two-thirds (71 percent) of the small business owners surveyed said the health care law makes it hard for them to hire more employees, and three-quarters (77 percent) said the law will make health coverage more expensive for their employees, the study released Thursday said.

The Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which requires companies with 50 employees or more to adequately insure its full-time employees or face penalties, is of particular concern, the survey found.

The mandate will prompt 32 percent of respondents to reduce hiring, 31 percent to cut hours or take employees off full-time status, and 27 percent to stop providing employee health insurance altogether.

The survey was conducted March 14-16 by Harris Interactive with a sample 1,332 small business executives who oversee companies of 500 or fewer employees and $25 million or less in revenue.

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