Brendan Gill: Don’t Scrap the Affordable Care Act

Monday, Mar 19, 2012 2:21pm  |  COMMENTS (39)

We hear a lot of talk these days about “job creators.” Yet, America’s greatest source of meaningful job creation – our small businesses – are often left out of the conversation. Main Street is the backbone of our country and our state. As our small businesses help our economy get back on its feet during these tough economic times, our government should be supporting them every way.

March 23rd marks the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being signed into law by President Barack Obama. Studies show that today, small businesses create 70 percent of new jobs. Before the legislation was passed, a study from the Small Business Majority found health care costs were rising so much that it would cost 178,000 jobs by 2018. The ACA lowers health costs for small businesses through tax credits and other cost containment measures. These new reforms mean big savings for small businesses, freeing them to invest in job creation.

During the first half of 2011, one in three Americans lived in a family that struggled to pay medical bills within the previous year, was currently paying a medical bill over time, or was dealing with a medical bill that the family was unable to pay at all. This is clearly not a sustainable way of life.

Most small business owners think of their employees like family and want to offer coverage to help their workers. Over the past two years, small business owners throughout the country have already benefitted from new access to tax credits, which helps lower premiums. This allows them to offer employees comprehensive coverage like never before. Thanks to these reforms, the all-too-familiar binary choice – either to provide health insurance for current workers or hire more workers – is becoming a thing of the past.

One way the Affordable Care Act lowers health costs for small businesses is by allowing them to band together in health exchanges that will be created in each state. By forcing insurance companies to compete, these exchanges will drive down costs, guarantee choice, and put small businesses in control. Just last month, New Jersey was one of eight states awarded a Consumer Oriented and Operated Plans loan. These funds will help the Freelancers CO-OP of New Jersey start a private non-profit, consumer-governed health insurance company. It will be run by their members and is designed to offer coverage and choices to both individuals and small businesses. Before, insurance companies charged small businesses in the individual market an average 18% more in premiums than larger businesses. While the insurance exchanges included in the ACA will bring costs down once they begin in 2014, we should still make it even simpler for small business owners to provide insurance to their employees right now.

One important aspect of President Obama’s proposed budget expands a tax credit to help small businesses provide the care their employees need and deserve. The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit has benefited hundreds of thousands of small businesses since the ACA passed. After listening to business owners throughout the country, President Obama has proposed making the tax credit available to even more businesses. His budget increases the maximum size of eligible companies from 25 employees to 50. It also calls for more generous phase-out provisions and a simplification of the credit – making it far easier to claim. Estimates indicate that if the President’s new plan is enacted, the tax credit will benefit about half a million employers who provide healthcare to 4 million workers in 2012 alone. Over the next decade, it would provide an additional $14 billion in tax credits to small employers all across America, meaning more job creation and sustainability.

While Republicans want to fight the same stale political battles to hand control of health care back to insurance companies, it is crucial that we continue to protect our small businesses. This means giving Main Street a level playing field to compete on. The relentless assault on the Affordable Care Act at the hands of the right-wing in Congress proves that they put the concerns of Big Insurance and their lobbyists ahead of those of the middle-class.

Simply put, these new changes to healthcare will help small business owners hire more employees and forge an American economy that is built to last. The small business health care tax credit and the improvements to the tax credit President Obama is proposing will increase the number of eligible small businesses and make the process of claiming the credit easier. The quicker these plans are implemented, the quicker small business owners across the country can benefit.

For additional information on the tax credit, go to www.whitehouse.gov, www.healthcare.gov and www.irs.gov – which all have special sections to answer questions and help small businesses figure out if they qualify for the credit.

Brendan Gill, chairman of Montclair’s Democratic party, was elected to the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders in November.

 

39 Comments

  1. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  March 19, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

    This could possibly be the biggest bunch of party line horsespit I’ve ever read.

  2. POSTED BY livesinglenridge  |  March 19, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

    Is Gill aware of all the restrictions on the “small business” tax credit for health care in Obamacare, which makes it almost impossible for most small businesses to actually qualify for the credit? If you define a small business as what it really is and what most people mean by it–a mom-and-pop business, a family owned and operated restaurant or store, an independent contractor or solo professional, etc.–and not using the administration’s definition that takes “small business” up to at least $20mm annual gross revenue (which is not “small” by any but Wall Street or banking definitions), then the exclusion of the owner and the owner’s family from receiving the credit makes it worthless. I have a small business; so do many of my friends. None of us will get the credit, and all of us have seen our health insurance rates rise faster after the “reform” than they did before. Much more help from the government like this and I’ll be out of business.

  3. POSTED BY nickcharles  |  March 19, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

    I’m curious what conservatives will do if the Supremes rule against the ACA, after the immediately victory party, of course. Considering the ACA was basically their idea that they disowned as soon as Obama came out in favor of it, what will be their solution to the healthcare crisis? Alas, I believe, they won’t have one.

  4. POSTED BY PAZ  |  March 19, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

    The conservative elite doesn’t have a solution because they have no idea what mere mortals are going through. Even our supreme court is out of touch re: Ledbetter decision.

  5. POSTED BY kay  |  March 19, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

    How does this relate to the waivers that were promptly obtained by companies like McDonald’s and WalMart? If this plan was so great, why did they all line up and ask for a pass??

    Also, will the ‘exchange’ be anything like the “JUA” (anyone remember that little fiasco here in NJ)? Basically, it became a whirlpool of doom for the ‘uninsurable’?

    When it costs $20K+ to cover a family under a typical PPO plan (and no, that’s not with measly $5 co-pays) how much of a tax credit can a small business expect to get? Is it dollar for dollar? Or does it come with one of those “10% + $100″ rules that basically makes it almost impossible to achieve?

    That $700 per person penalty is looking like an attractive option!

    The system is indeed broken, but I don’t think the ACA will actually solve the problem. Nice try, though.
    What we need is to invent a vaccine to cure greed!

  6. POSTED BY stu  |  March 19, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

    How about a vaccine that makes accepting campaign contributions or lobbying fatal?

  7. POSTED BY scottie  |  March 19, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

    The JUA is alive and well, just with a different face, different name. Some state’s versions are competitive and quite profitable.

    The penalty might be the way to go. I am a small biz. Were it not for hubby’s bennys, that is where I would be.

  8. POSTED BY bmk645  |  March 19, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

    Obamacare will lead most small employers and many large employers to drop coverage for their employees, driving most to state sponsored exchanges to buy their own insurance. The penalties on employers are small relative to the savings from not having to buy insurance, the cost of which will go up under Obamacare. Many individuals will elect not to buy insurance from the exchanges because of its high cost.
    Beginning in 2014, NJ, along with all the states, will be required to expand eligibility for Medicaid under Obamacare. Initially the federal government will pay most of the cost of expanding the program but one way or the other taxpayers will foot the bill. Together with various other subsidies, Obamacare is a huge expansion of entitlements all of which have to be paid for. Ultimately, the “tax and spend” party will be raising taxes. Initially focusing on the higher income brackets and soon therafter on everyone else.
    Don’t be fooled by squishy liberal political hacks, Obamacare is a bad medicine. When the most troublesome aspects take effect (conveniently after the election), costs will skyrocket and taxes will follow.

  9. POSTED BY PAZ  |  March 19, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

    “Don’t be fooled by squishy liberal political hacks”…..So says Carnac the great BMK…..The let’s not fix what’s broken and say we did philosophy.
    This weeping and gnashing really gets me down, especially coming from a side that has no plan….Oh…wait….There’s always a medical savings plan….ROTFLOL!

  10. POSTED BY PAZ  |  March 19, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

    P.s. Pretty soon you won’t get benefits from your cushy corporate jobs. Most of them are laying off employees, out sourcing and hiring contracted temps galore who have to provide their own healthcare. So all you soon to be contractors out there, go get your fed. tax id number now….Times a-wastin’. Plus do a google search for your new DBA nom de plume. AND take it from me….don’t incorporate….That’s more $$$ flying out your home office window.

  11. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  March 20, 2012 @ 8:01 am

    So herb, the Supreme Court may or may not uphold ACA ( or as you might like to call it, Obamacare ) very shortly.

    What would you possibly say should they uphold it? Certainly not what you said at the start of the thread.

  12. POSTED BY paolo  |  March 20, 2012 @ 11:14 am

    The original proposal had a lot to like.

    -Union and corporate medical plans could bargain for bulk prices on medicines, as could state plans for the elderly, poor, etc. (The pharma companies agreed to pay more taxes if these bulk purchase agreements vanished. They vanished.)
    -Scholarships for 10,000 new primary care doctors each year. (The AMA didn’t like that idea.)
    -New clinics and primary care points in schools, shopping centers, to relieve critical crowding in emergency rooms. (Hospital industry wasn’t pleased)
    -Tort reform to standardize grounds for lawsuits and “defensive medicine” practices. (Lawyers and some quality care proponents objected)

    There were many other good ideas that were compromised away, or bought off by influential groups that are doing fine under the current rules. Both parties played that game.

  13. POSTED BY PAZ  |  March 20, 2012 @ 11:45 am

    And we take it in the neck as usual.

  14. POSTED BY DagT  |  March 20, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

    Consider how insurance costs may decrease if there were real options when purchasing a policy. Start with interstate competition!

  15. POSTED BY croiagusanam  |  March 20, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

    herbie, I suggest that you click on your link, then click on the Congressional Budget Office hyperlink, then click on full document, on the left.

    Then read it.

    Then get back to us.

  16. POSTED BY mike 91  |  March 20, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

    hey Gill how do explain this?

    Because its a lie? That yahoo story is based on a press release from the Republican liars in Congress that cherry-pick facts to make it look like the healthcare law is more expensive, when its really cheaper.

    Here’s a link to the blog post from the CBO that Yahoo mentions in its story:

    http://cbo.gov/publication/43080

    There are two headings you should know are there, because I doubt you’ll read it. Here they are:

    The Estimated Net Cost of the Insurance Coverage Provisions Is Smaller Than Estimated in March 2011

    Gross Costs Are Higher, but Offsetting Budgetary Effects Are Also Higher

    So there you have it. Republicans rely on the fact that this bill is already evil incarnate, so the already converted won’t actually question them in regards to fact.

  17. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  March 20, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

    Here’s a link to the other story, about the GOP misrepresenting the costs, that you can click on right below the story Herb posted:

    http://news.yahoo.com/gop-misrepresents-cbo-213402582.html

  18. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  March 20, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

    Ahhhh, the party line brigade with their blinders on.

  19. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  March 20, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

    This small business of 13 people is looking very much forward to the passage of the bill, and the exchanges. Hopefully it will be just the beginning. Our health care system is incredibly disfuntional, and we spend way too much time in our business correcting billing problems & dealing with the insurers’ evasions, the hospitals’ overbilling, wrong billing codes, etc. And we’re cabinetmakers who speak English. I shudder to think what someone with ESL has to go through.

  20. POSTED BY mike 91  |  March 20, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

    Ahhhh, the party line brigade with their blinders on.

    Nothing substantial, much less relevant, to say as usual. Facts are facts herb. Do the headers I posted exist or not?

  21. POSTED BY croiagusanam  |  March 20, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

    A guy with Andrew Breitbart as his avatar talks about a “party line brigade”!

    Only in America!

  22. POSTED BY walleroo  |  March 20, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

    Breitbart?! I thought it was Matthew McCaughhihnnhnhiihy.

  23. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  March 20, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

    would that be the Matthew McCaughhihnnhnhiihy from Uzbekibekibekistanstan?

  24. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  March 20, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

    Bretbart? I thought it was herb himself !

  25. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  March 20, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    I had no idea Herbie could be so ironic.

  26. POSTED BY croiagusanam  |  March 20, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

    Oh he can be ironic as hell, JG.

    And, he’s always ready to counsel young people as to proper behaviour:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NzHHQASizE

  27. POSTED BY stayhyphy  |  March 20, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

    Absolutely nothing wrong with scrapping the ACA and starting from scratch. Look, Obama knows the bill sucks, it was passed via reconciliation simply so he can check the box and tell America he did something productive. He won’t even talk about it as of late because he knows it sucks and he knows that bringing it up is not productive with respect to his re-election bid.

  28. POSTED BY mike 91  |  March 20, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

    Absolutely nothing wrong with scrapping the ACA and starting from scratch.

    If you think any healthcare reform will get passed with the Republican-majority house, you’re delusional.

    Obama knows the bill sucks, it was passed via reconciliation simply so he can check the box and tell America he did something productive.

    An odd take. It was passed via reconcialiation because Republicans main strategy is getting Obama out of the white house, not governing the country.

    He won’t even talk about it as of late because he knows it sucks and he knows that bringing it up is not productive with respect to his re-election bid.

    With lies like in the original Yahoo story that herb posted, what’s in it for him?

  29. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  March 20, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

    This from Stayhyphy, who would solve the economy’s problems single-handedly if the rest of us ignoramuses would just shut up and trust the smart guys.

    ACA didn’t go far enough, but that was a political reality with guys like Herb & Stayhyphy.

  30. POSTED BY hrhppg  |  March 20, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

    I know this bill is good for the consumer based on how nervous it is making the agents who handle group policies in my office. Someone won’t be making the big bucks selling small companies big premium, low option coverage. The idea of a fair market value being applied to what was an untouchable and misunderstood industry isn’t profitable for the few.

  31. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  March 20, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    Livesinglenridge: The limited tax credit concept was/is a Republican concept to accept the ACA. Our business doesn’t qualify for credits either — we pay our employees too much. But when the exchange in NJ is set up, premium costs should be somewhat lower and stablized year over year because for the first time, your small business and my small business will be pooled along with every mom & pop and individual.
    Our rates went up 30% a year before this legislation passed; they still go up. In 2014, that should change.
    Hrhppg: you are absolutely right. Nobody spits the word ‘Obamacare’ like our agent.

  32. POSTED BY stayhyphy  |  March 20, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

    I understand Republicans are a roadblock with respect to any progress which is why I voted for Obama, the guy that was supposed to transcend that very divide. I just disagree with his tactics of passing half-baked law in the name of progress in lieu of being able to transcend the divide that he promised he could. How can anyone trumpet the left and the Obama admin???? It is literally no different than the other side of the aisle. To be behind either is ignorant. I agree with so little of what either side has offered up regarding policy in the last 3 years and I like to be critical of those wearing either left or right blinders.

  33. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  March 20, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

    BTW, herb, what ever happened to 9 9 9 ? And where is Herman Cain? And his happenin’ hat?
    Looks like “9*9*9″ and Herman Cain both got deep 6′d. deep 6′d. deep 6′d……

    And, bummer man, his run for POTUS was the last chance this year for the Tea Partiers to conclusively prove they Were NOT RACISTS! NO WAY ! No way Jose! (Although, Jose still should stay away from Alabama and Arizona, and Mustafa should avoid the NYPD )

  34. POSTED BY livesinglenridge  |  March 20, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

    Kit,

    I don’t believe that the “pooling” will lower costs or rates any significant amount. After all, when you get down to it, rates are still being set by the same insurers who’ve been gauging us for years; and they’ll be setting those rates in the context of 1) having to insurer sicker people than previously but 2) being allowed to pass that cost on to their insured to ensure their profits. If private insurers have given us unsupportable rates, why do we assume that all of a sudden, they’ll stop doing that? Relying on insurers to bring down insurance rates seems to me the same as relying on banks to self-regulate, or counting on tax cuts to the wealthy to “trickle down” to the rest of us. I hope I’m wrong, I’m course–but I’ve seen no evidence of that.

  35. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  March 20, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

    Livesinglenridge, if the pool is comprised of everyone — young, healthy (who tend to be the ones who forego insurance, gambling that they won’t need it) and a small group is turned into a much larger group, it stands to reason that the actuarials will be affected. Also, insurers will not be allowed to rate people on a gender basis. Today, our new rates came out. Singles are increased by 12% — husbands and wives much higher than the cost of two singles — the theory being that women cost more. We have an aging work force — most of us are under 50, and two younger employees would would lower the group’s rates have opted out. ACA didn’t go far enough, but anything that imposes limitations and restrictions on insurers is fine by me.

  36. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  March 20, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

    “To be behind either is ignorant. I agree with so little of what either side has offered up regarding policy in the last 3 years and I like to be critical of those wearing either left or right blinders.”

    Stayhyphy, the logical extension of your statment is that anyone you disagree with is ignorant. I would suggest you try to muster up a tiny bit of social acumen — I realize it’s hard for you — and counter an argument with facts instead of insulting those whose opinions differ from your own. Your sweeping criticism is compelling evidence of your own small-mindedness.

  37. POSTED BY paolo  |  March 20, 2012 @ 8:11 pm

    DagT wrote:

    Consider how insurance costs may decrease if there were real options when purchasing a policy. Start with interstate competition!

    ————

    Depending on the states involved, costs could go down with interstate competition. Different states require different coverages, maternity minimum stays, mental health benefits, co-pays, deductibles, etc. The state system of mandating various coverages directly affects rates.

    However, if your employer bought a Montana health policy, and it only covered half the things your neighbor’s employer’s NJ policy covers, you’d probably be irritated. The guy down the street who has no insurance will probably envy both of you.

    There are far too many entrenched interests in the healthcare system for band aid fixes to make a substantial difference.

  38. POSTED BY PAZ  |  March 20, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

    I’ll keep my blinders on and wait for PPACA.

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Well-written and informative article, I think the Plofker plan for the DMV garage is a good one! :-)

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