Travel around the country, and you’ll hear the same thing I hear from folks all over the 12th District of Georgia: We want employers to hire more workers and grow their businesses, but they face an uncertain future because of regulations coming down from Washington. One of the biggest barriers keeping businesses, large and small, from creating the jobs we need is the employer mandate in “Obamacare.”
This mandate requires firms that employ more than 50 full-time workers either to provide them with health insurance of minimum value or pay steep penalties to the federal government.
The Administration recently announced a one-year delay in the implementation of the employer mandate to accommodate the needs of job creators across the country. In the 12th District, that delay is welcome, but a full repeal would have a much more positive impact. Studies have shown that the employer mandate will make it harder for 72 percent of small businesses to succeed, with some indicating a reduction in the size of their businesses being the only way to survive with this mandate in place.
Beginning in 2015, the employer mandate will encourage firms to enact hiring freezes that keep them below the 50-employee threshold. Or, place employees on part-time status rather than full-time. According to the nonpartisan Hudson Institute, the employer mandate will lead to an estimated 3.2 million lost jobs. Alternatively, employers could also choose to pay the penalty rather than provide health insurance to their employees. Can we blame them?
This mandate has the exact opposite impact on our economy that we need.
Along with U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, R-La., and Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, I have introduced legislation to fully repeal the employer mandate. Rather than take the bare minimum action to delay the impact of the employer mandate, the House leadership should take up our legislation. There’s a common misconception in Washington: Some folks up there would prefer to tell employers what’s best for them, rather than actually let them run their businesses as they see fit. I’m of the belief that no one knows better what’s best for their business, or for their community, than the folks actually on the ground — the hard-working people who put everything they have, and everything they own, into growing their own business. The last thing they need is someone from Washington to come in to impose unsustainable mandates and fines.
Our health-care system is broken, and no one in this country doubts that. However, by mandating that every employer with more than 50 workers must provide health insurance benefits to their employees, the government is putting limits on productivity and growth, increasing unemployment, and forcing firms to have lower profits.
The efforts last week to delay the employer mandate, while a step in the right direction, don’t go far enough to address the problem. It’s clear that businesses don’t want the employer mandate, and even more obvious that the Administration isn’t too keen on enforcing it. It’s in the best interest of our economy, and it would show our job creators that we’re actually listening to their needs, to go ahead and repeal the employer mandate once and for all.
U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., represents Georgia’s 12th Congressional District, which includes Effingham County. He is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and co-chairman of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition.