June 29, 2012
By JOEY HOLLEMAN
Small business groups have extremely varied viewpoints on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision backing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
The National Federation of Independent Business actually joined South Carolina and 25 other states in the court challenge of the law. Thursday’s decision frustrated Ben Homeyer, state director of NFIB in South Carolina.
“Under the health care law, small business owners are going to face an onslaught of taxes and mandates, resulting in job loss and closed businesses,” Homeyer said. “NFIB will continue to fight for the repeal of health care in the halls of Congress. Only with a full repeal of the law will Congress have the ability to go back to the drawing board to craft real reform that makes reducing costs a No. 1 priority.
“The power and control of health care decisions should be in the hands of the consumer, not the government.”
But the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce had a very different take on the news of the day.
“Today marks an extraordinary day for American small businesses,” said Frank Knapp Jr., president and CEO of the group. “The new law has already helped hundreds of thousands of small businesses, many of which are based here in South Carolina, through health care tax credits. 2014 will bring an insurance marketplace that will create more competition among insurance companies to drive down premiums.”
The law requires firms with 50 or more employees to pay a fee – the Supreme Court categorized it as a tax – if they don’t provide employee health insurance. Smaller companies are exempt.
Various branches of the health industry also take varied approaches to the Affordable Care Act. The S.C. Hospital Association and the insurance industry, while concerned with some aspects of the massive overhaul, appear ready to work to implement the changes. But many physicians, often small business owners themselves, remain adamant against the law.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision does not change our business strategy or commitment to system reforms that make quality care more affordable and accessible,” said BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina spokesperson Elizabeth Hammond. “We are prepared for the changes ahead and will continue to fully comply with the requirements of the ACA. Unfortunately, these changes do little, if anything, to reduce the cost of coverage. In fact, many of the provisions of the law will increase the cost of insurance as the law is fully implemented.”
The Affordable Care Act reduces payments to hospitals by $155 billion over 10 years, and in exchange hospitals benefit by the fact more Americans will have insurance, said Thornton Kirby, CEO of the hospital association. Currently, all Medicare-participating hospitals with an emergency department are required to treat every patient who comes to the emergency department. Many of those are uninsured now but in 2014 under the act would be covered by Medicaid or planned insurance exchanges.
The S.C. Medical Association, the largest doctor’s advocacy group in the state, was less conciliatory.
“The SCMA is extremely disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the (ACA) in its current, flawed form, which lacks key components for successful health care reform,” said Todd Atwater, CEO of the association. “The SCMA has opposed federal health reform legislation since its beginning and believes we have missed a critical opportunity to start afresh with a more sustainable law. The SCMA will continue to advocate for health reform that is both fiscally sound and, most importantly, places a priority on the physician-patient relationship.”