WASHINGTON – Three years ago today, Obamacare (otherwise known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) was signed in to law by the president.
Since that day, members from lobby groups, special interests, and people in politics everywhere have been trying to repeal Obamacare. Most recently, Senator Ted Cruz (R – TX) attempted (and failed) to repeal the bill. But this is nothing new: Senator Cruz’s attempt marks the 39th time Obamacare has faced opposition and won the fight for its repeal.
But what does this mean for the country as a whole? Is Obamacare going to be around forever? If it is, how is going to affect business and the economy?
There is no real answer. Each side of the aisle has different opinions on the pros and cons of Obamacare. Republicans viciously shout it is unconstitutional, while Democrats furiously defend the bill’s benefits to the economy and quality of life in the United States.
But no matter how the politicians sway their arguments, one sector is (not so silently) showing the effects of Obamacare: small businesses.
The major issue, say small business owners, is not the benefits proposed by Obamacare. In theory, if a small business had 25 employees or less, and paid an average of $50,000 wages per employee, that business would be eligible for a sizeable tax credit. This 35 percent credit would help many a business, as would the many other reforms proposed by the bill. This is supposedly going to be updated to 50 percent in 2014.
So, why are these and other benefits of Obamacare seen as having a negative impact? The issue is this: the laws are too complex for small businesses to understand. Tax firms belonging to the AICPA are charging more for clients who are filing tax returns claiming the credit. “It’s incredibly complicated in terms of getting enough information. We have created Excel spreadsheets to deal with it and the IRS has put out bunches and bunches of worksheets,” says Jeff Porter, chair of the AICPA’s tax executive committee. Accountants at his firm, Porter and Associates in Huntington, WV, have to do one to two hours extra work per return involving Obamacare.
Needless to say, the picture above describes how many small businesses feel about the so-called “universal healthcare reform” bill.
The complications of the bill are even limiting expansion for small businesses. Jody Manor, the owner of Bittersweet Catering, Café, and Bakery in Alexandria, VA, employs only 45 people. Once he reaches 50 employees, he would have to abide by the minimum coverage clause. Manor has no idea how this would affect his current premiums, or even if his current health coverage plan would meet this new threshold of coverage. “These changes are less than a year away, and I still have no information about how much our premiums are going to cost,” says Manor. This is a concern expressed by many.
Amid the uncertainty, there are a few hard facts. Obamacare is here, it appears it is here to stay, and it will have an effect on the economy of the United States. Whether for good or ill, that remains to be seen.