Employers work on health mandate
That provision addresses health care plans that are too generous by the standards set in the law. Such high-cost “Cadillac” plans will be hit with an excise tax starting in 2018, and Mr. Rahill said that is what worries most of the businesses surveyed by Mercer.
He said companies are working hard to try to avoid paying the excise tax, which has already had the effect of slowing increases in insurance costs in the past year or so.
Major business organizations were quick to declare after the Supreme Court ruling that they intend to comply with the law, while continuing to offer encouragement to efforts by Republicans — most notably GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney— to repeal it.
Big business groups are concerned that the law does not do enough to control fast-growing health care costs, which have made it increasingly difficult for companies to keep offering benefits to their employees.
“Manufacturers have consistently made it clear that lowering costs should be the central focus of any health care reform effort,” said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. “Ninety-seven percent of manufacturers offer generous health benefits to their employees, and skyrocketing health care costs represent the single biggest obstacle for them continuing to do so.”
A hit to small business
Small businesses have formed the core of opposition to the law, as they are less likely than big businesses to provide health benefits to their workers.
But even among small businesses, certain concerns will get hit harder than others — particularly restaurants and franchise businesses that employ many low-wage workers who are not currently insured. For that reason, the National Restaurant Association, International Franchise Association and retail trade associations have been among the most vehement opponents of the law.
The franchise association said a survey of its members found that 85 percent were less likely to hire people in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. Only 15 percent said they were more likely to add to their staff.
Jamie Richardson, vice president of the White Castle restaurant chain, recently told Congress that the law already is having a chilling effect on his industry. Although White Castle already provides full health benefits to its full-time employees, many employees who do not currently receive benefits would be eligible under the law, driving up the chain’s health costs by about 20 percent in 2014, he said.
“Many in the industry are worried that our slim profits per employee will not be sufficient to cover the additional cost,” he said.
But some small-business owners said they are glad to have some clarity about how to proceed in hiring new workers now that the Supreme Court has spoken.
“Hopefully, obstructionists have gotten the message and will either put their shoulders to the wheel and work in good faith to make our health care system the best in the world, or stand aside and let the rest of us get on with it,” said Kelly Conklin, owner of Foley-Waite Associates architectural woodworking in Bloomfield, N.J., and a member of the Main Street Alliance, a small-business group that supports the law.
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