The business owners, who have covered 100 percent of their employees’ insurance premiums in the past, said that with the HIT, they will struggle to offer any health care coverage at all.
“I’m really sorry, but this is future of health care. The best I can tell you is— don’t get sick,” said Joe Moreshead, owner of Precision Screw Machine Products in Maine, who joined members of Congress at a Wednesday press conference. Moreshead spoke about the devastation the HIT will have on his business as he will have to take an additional $500 from each of his employees to pay for their health insurance.
“Legislation takes on a theoretical context back here in Washington,” Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) said at the press conference. “But out in the real world, it matters to people. And that’s why it’s so important that we have real-world business people here to talk about what it means to them. That’s the way in which we ought to evaluate this legislation.”
“None of us really understand how we are going to continue to stay in business,” said Gina Martin, owner of Little Rock Tours and Travel in Arkansas. Martin, who runs a motor coach transportation company with 37 employees, said it is already difficult to find good, qualified drivers.
“We thought that by offering great health benefits our drivers would stick around,” Martin said. “If we take away the health insurance of our drivers, it would be catastrophic to our company. We would lose all of our drivers, and without drivers we wouldn’t have a business.”
Mike Mitternight, owner of Factory Service Agency in Louisiana, expressed his frustration with the HIT because it is becoming more difficult for him to stay in business every year. Mitternight said he was informed two weeks ago that he should anticipate a premium increase of between 35 and 40 percent when he renews his insurance coverage in 2014.
“We never get specific reasons as to why this is coming into place, but we know why— we know the bill that’s been passed and what it’s going to do to us. Another $500 per person, if I stay at the same level of 10 employees, that’s $5,000 a year off of my bottom line,” Mitternight said.
“It cuts down the number of employees I can hire. It eliminates the equipment that I can buy to expand my business. It impacts the kind of jobs that we bid, because the cash flow is just not there to be able to handle these kinds of things.”
“The new sales tax on health insurance starts at $8 billion in 2014, increases to $14.3 billion in 2018, and increases every year thereafter. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the health insurance tax will exceed $100 billion over the next 10 years,” according to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national trade association representing the health insurance industry, in a June 17 press release.
In March, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Jobs and Premium Protection Act (S.603) which would repeal the HIT altogether. The bill now has 23 additional cosponsors. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) introduced a similar bill in the House, which now has 224 cosponsors.
“When is this going to cease from killing us? To be honest with you, the Obamacare has been an abomination, and it’s getting worse all the time. The Democrats know it. That the thing. And why they’re trying to still sell it, I’ll never understand,” Hatch said at the press conference.
“But I actually believe in time they’re just going to plain throw their hands in the air and say we gotta go to a single-payer system, which is, after all, what they were after to begin with. The one-size-fits-all, federal government-run health care system in our society.
“We do that, I gotta tell ya, everybody is going to be paying through the nose the rest of their lives. And we’re moving right straight towards what most people would call socialism.”
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