Supreme Court healthcare decision: Small business advocates react

Small business groups voiced varied reactions to today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  

Dan Danner, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which took the case against the law’s "individual mandate" to the Supreme Court, said he is “disappointed,” but vowed to “move forward from today to continue to fight, harder than ever, for real health-care reform for our membership.” Danner warned that, under the healthcare law, “small-business owners are going to face an onslaught of taxes and mandates, resulting in job loss and closed businesses.”

The Small Business Majority, on the other hand, applauded the court’s 5-4 decision, calling it a “victory for small business owners who have struggled with the excessively high cost of health insurance for decades.” The group says the Act tackles small business owners’ top priorities—cost and accessibility—and predicts that the law will “significantly rein in costs while providing more health coverage options for entrepreneurs.”

Countering the Federation's prediction of shuttered businesses, the Small Business Majority points to a way the law could give a boost to business: Without the Affordable Care Act, would-be entrepreneurs with preexisting medical conditions are locked into current jobs with employers who offer health coverage, unable to launch new companies or help grow the economy. The new health care law will presumably free more people to get health insurance coverage independent of large employers, and therefore to innovate on their own.

Other groups disagree with the Small Business Majority’s assessment of the law’s impact on costs. The National Small Business Association, which opposed the Affordable Care Act for “its failure to truly address health care costs and insurance premium prices,” says the Supreme Court’s decision today reinforces its own commitment to work toward “serious health care cost containment.”

The group warned that, absent reforms to the Affordable Care Act, health care costs facing small businesses would continue to grow at an unsustainable pace.

The National Association for the Self Employed also has argued that the health care law “does little to address the affordability of coverage for America’s largest employment sector, the self-employed.”

NASE President Kristie L. Arslan said today, “Now that the law has been upheld, small-business owners remain concerned about the impact of its implementation, especially as it relates to the establishment of Exchanges and regulations around essential health benefits, the minimum allowable coverage a citizen is required to purchase.” She said NASE will continue to work with the Department of Health and Human Services and State Insurance Commissioners to ensure that the needs and concerns of the self-employed are at the forefront of those tasked with implementing the remaining components of the law.”  

Though more than 77 percent of the self-employed currently have health insurance coverage, Arslan warned that when the individual mandate kicks in starting in 2014, the self-employed will be required to purchase both more expansive and more expensive coverage.

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