Morning Action: Obamacare is Terribly Confusing for Businesses
OBAMACARE and BUSINESS. Businesses across the country are trying to determine whether their businesses qualify as small businesses under Obamacare. As the Washington Post reports, the answer is anything but simple:
The legislation features a number of requirements and exclusions that apply only to small businesses; however, the new rules rely on different measures to determine which firms are considered “small,” and several are scheduled to fluctuate in the years ahead.
Some say the inconsistency adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to the law, confusing many employers and making it difficult to gauge the legislation’s impact on Main Street.
Next month, for instance, small business owners will gain access to new online health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, where they will be able to select from an array of plans from various insurers. In order to target small businesses, lawmakers reserved access to the exchanges to firms with fewer than 100 employees (though states are allowed to set the limit lower for the first two years).
That threshold is significantly lower than the ones set by the U.S. Small Business Administration, which often uses a 500-employee ceiling to define “small business” but offers government-backed loans to firms with as many as 1,500 workers, depending on their industry.
Consequently, many companies that qualify as a small by SBA standards will not be allowed to use the small business insurance marketplaces.
An even larger number of firms that are considered small by most federal standards will not qualify for one of the most important small business provisions in the law — an exemption from what is known as the “employer mandate.”
That’s short of the “majority of the majority,” which has become a benchmark for consensus by the 233 Republicans who control the chamber.
“We urge you to affirmatively defund the implementation and enforcement of ObamaCare in any relevant appropriations bills brought to the House floor” in the current Congress “including any continuing appropriations bill,” said the letter to Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
The House has voted 40 times to repeal or revise the health-care law, which the letter said “remains broadly unpopular across America,” according to the the letter circulated by freshman North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows.
The Obama administration in the past has threatened to veto legislation that would withhold money for carrying out the health-care law, raising the specter of a showdown between the Republican-run House and Obama over legislation to finance the government after the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. In light of the Supreme Court of New Mexico’s ruling that the First Amendment does not protect a photographer’s right to declining to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony, Heritage’s Ryan T. Anderson notes:
Today’s decision highlights the increasing concern many have that anti-discrimination laws and the pressure for same-sex marriage will run roughshod over the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Thomas Messner, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, has documented multiple instances in which laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as laws redefining marriage, already have eroded religious liberty and the rights of conscience. Indeed, earlier this year, the United States Commission on Civil Rights held an entire hearing on conflicts between nondiscrimination policies and civil liberties such as religious freedom.
COLLEGE. The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke explains that President Obama’s plan to reduce college costs — namely, using a federal scorecard to evaluate colleges — is not a viable plan for four reasons:
Yesterday, President Obama announced his plan to make “college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve value for students and their families.”
But a big part of the President’s plan includes creating a college rating system—a federal scorecard—to evaluate colleges on measures such as graduation rates, the number of low-income students served (i.e., the percentage of Pell Grant recipients), graduate earnings, and affordability.
Scorecards are a seductive idea. But having the federal government issue scorecards to measure college output would be a mistake. Four problems with the President’s plan:
1. Government says what’s best…
2. Special-interest institutions with more clout could shape the standards…
3. Standard-setters would also control college funding…
4. We already have scorecards…