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Obama must help small business owners with burden of health care law

 

The health care law is “the most disruptive instrument to the American workplace in my lifetime.” That’s the perspective of Richmond businessman William J. Goldin, Jr., president of family-owned Strange’s Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers since 1978, who testified before the Small Business Committee last week.

Even proponents of the controversial health care law are now worried, as the predictable problems become a reality. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, one of the chief architects of the law, stated recently to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that he sees a “huge train wreck” coming in the implementation of it. Moreover, he acknowledged that “small businesses have no idea what to do, what to expect.” 

President Obama should take steps to mitigate the burden and minimize the uncertainty his health care law places on our nation’s entrepreneurs.

Those of us who opposed the law have been concerned all along that it will be detrimental to the economy, and especially small businesses. The reasons for those concerns are becoming evident.

According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey released this month, requirements of the health care law are now the biggest concern for small businesses, and 71 percent say the law makes it harder for them to hire more employees.

Members of the committee hear directly from small business owners, both in hearings and through our online portal, “Small Biz Open Mic.” They are telling us that compliance with the complicated health care law is placing a strain on their businesses. 

Complying with new requirements is a burden, and it falls most heavily on those who have the fewest resources. Small businesses don’t have the time, expertise or personnel on hand to easily absorb the changes of one of the most far-reaching laws in history, but they’re forced to grapple with higher costs and new paperwork. 

Many are simply not yet certain what they’re required to do to avoid problems or penalties. Throw in the added uncertainty of the recent delay in the Small Business Health Option Plans, and the administration’s efforts to put the law into place appear to be in disarray.

Kevin Tindall, owner of a plumbing and heating business in Princeton, New Jersey, testified that “the continued rise in the cost of providing health care insurance absolutely stifles my ability to create, provide and sustain jobs.” He continued: “I have yet to understand how we as a nation can continue to state that we need to create more jobs, yet challenge, threaten or even ignore the very mechanisms for job creation.”

In an economy that has yet to find its footing, heaping new problems on small businesses is counterproductive. These small firms are absolutely critical to any strong recovery, particularly in the job market. Since 1993, 64 percent of net new jobs come from small businesses. Small companies are roughly half of the private sector economy, accounting for 49 percent of private sector employees and 42 percent of private sector payrolls.

Despite my strong opposition to this law, the Small Business Committee is dedicated to helping small businesses overcome the difficulties with compliance. In December 2012, the Committee released a compliance resource for small business and listed key requirements for 2013 and 2014 to clarify and explain key parts of the law in plain English.

The valid concerns of small businesses have too often been ignored by this administration, but the president should pay attention now and take steps to mitigate the burden and minimize the uncertainty that his health care law places on our nation’s entrepreneurs. Small business owners, our best job creators, deserve nothing less.

Republican Sam Graves represents Missouri's 6th congressional district. He is chairman of the House Small Business Committee.