Public Exchanges

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Drops Crusade Against Obamacare

by: Elliot M. Kass
January 14, 2014
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In a striking about face, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will no longer seek the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, working instead to correct what it sees as its flaws.

It was three years ago this month, during his annual State of American Business address, that the Chamber’s president and CEO, Tom Donahue, labeled the ACA “unworkable” and called for its repeal. During last week’s address he softened his views, calling instead for business-friendly adjustments to the new law.

“The administration is obviously committed to keeping the law in place, so the chamber has been working pragmatically to fix those parts of Obamacare that can be fixed -- while doing everything we can to make regulations and mandates as manageable as possible for businesses,” Donohue said during the speech. “In 2014, we will work to repeal onerous healthcare taxes; repeal, delay or change the employer mandate; and give companies and their employees more flexibility in the choice of health insurance plans.”

Acknowledging that outright repeal of the employer mandate -- already delayed until January 2015 -- is unlikely, the Chamber’s executive director, Katie Mahoney indicated that the group might be satisfied with some modifications. Specifically, the Chamber wants a change to the law’s definition of full-time employees from those working 30 hours a week to those working 40 hours or more. Under the ACA, large employers with 50 or more full-time employees must provide them with health coverage starting next year.

Another change would be to simplify how businesses determine if they fall into the large employer category. She said the current calculation, which takes into account part-time hours, for instance, is confusing for many small businesses.

Mahoney added that the chamber, which represents the interests of more than 3 million businesses, would also like to see the ACA's health insurance tax and medical device tax repealed and will explore how the law's transitional reinsurance fee might be financed in a different way.
Defending Donahue’s new willingness to work within the framework of the ACA, Mahoney said “The landscape's very different. We've been through the Supreme Court decision, we've been through another election, and the President is going to be in office for another three years and this is his signature domestic policy,” she elaborated. “So I think to say otherwise would be irrational.”

Comments (10)

Posted by: maxine c | January 15, 2014 7:20 PM

First, let me say this about the Chambers, they are not all they seem to be. They were once a place where small business could get discounts for the largest expense, HEALTH insurance! This is gone. Instead the only reason for their survival now would somehow become an ADVOCAT for them by making nice to the FEDS to show their worth. For a man years they have been losing members so if they don't do something now, they will be gone altogether. Second only brokers feel the pain the employers are going through because it was hard enough choosing medical for employees before ACA now its just a nightmare! Most every plan has deductibles and coinsurance and even those that seem good because of the no limits, still are very expensive. I see employers going to PEO's (I am starting to make relationships) because there are so many regulations even for the small employer including handing out those FSLA forms, keeping perfect records of refusals of insurance and more that as a small business owner, myself, if I needed to offer insurance for all my 7 employees, I might consider one of the PEO's too! ONLY brokers know what its like to be in the trench's with the insurers, f/u on claims, enrollment, get ID cards, help employees find solutions when they child is off at college, help grandma find a Medicare solution in her vicinity, seek out comparisons of networks, help set up Sec 125/HRA's HSA's incorporate ancillary products and more. WE ARE THE ONES small business rely on, not navigators or presidents of CHAMBERS. The pittance that the insures pay us for these services are embarrassing and yet the govt would let us share in the Pie as navigators to help us offset the long hours of navigating through the exchanges and explaining all the new types of products to the clients. SMALL BUSINESSES ADMIN is in it for themselves to keep it alive.

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Posted by: Richard C | January 15, 2014 5:33 PM

Stephen S has a great idea but it will go nowhere. The PPACA is designed to totally replace the healthcare system and take everyone to a single payer system. Obama has been quoted several times that this is his feeling. Get everyone on Medicade, Medical(CA) or some other form of Government provided program then say good bye to all the insurance brokers who work very hard each day to provide the best coverage for the indiviual situation. You can also say good bye to the insurers because once the government takes over the population who needs them any longer except to pay claims.Look at the takeover of General Motors if you want a prime example of a failure. We the American Taxpayer took a multi billion hit on that one. A lot of people were criticizing AIG Insurance when they were bailed out. They repaid every dime and the Government made billions of dollars interest.The main stream media will never have that story on their nightly news like they did when AIG was taken over with pictures every night on the news of the AIG HQ building. P.S. The AIG sign is back on the building and their stock is now worth over $45 share. Sold for $2 after takeover. I call that letting the system work.

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Posted by: Daniel S | January 15, 2014 3:36 PM

What was their payoff? The Chamber had to be bought off. This law will kill small businesses.

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Posted by: Daniel S | January 15, 2014 3:36 PM

What was their payoff? The Chamber had to be bought off. This law will kill small businesses.

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Posted by: Daniel S | January 15, 2014 3:36 PM

What was their payoff? The Chamber had to be bought off. This law will kill small businesses.

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Posted by: Daniel S | January 15, 2014 3:36 PM

What was their payoff? The Chamber had to be bought off. This law will kill small businesses.

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Posted by: Daniel S | January 15, 2014 3:36 PM

What was their payoff? The Chamber had to be bought off. This law will kill small businesses.

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Posted by: charles T | January 15, 2014 2:09 PM

Jim G is so far off base, a slow lob to the first baseman would put him out. I have worked with small business people for over 30 years. I have seen owners suck up (that is reduce their own bottom lines) because an employee or employees covered family member had a significant claim. Rarely do they pass additional cost to the employees. Also, Jim G drank the Kool Aid on those rotten pre-ACA plans. For his edification, the pre-ACA plans were far superior to the ACA plans. If he actually would come down to the real world and get experience working in a real job, maybe he could see the forest for the trees.

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Posted by: JIM G | January 15, 2014 1:43 PM

I think the reason is because a) a lot of those plans did not meet the standards set forth in ACA to begin with. An employer is most likely not going to make a change to a Plan - like getting rid of limits - unless they are mandated to do so. An employee was then stuck with a plan that does not offer what it should and there is nothing an employee can do about it short of finding a plan on their own which at the time before ACA, could be overly expensive since the employee would be paying 100% for it and they might be denied due to pre-existing conditions. b) the public market place is who is running all the plans now. They just have to abide by the standards set forth in ACA. Your point is like saying lets continue to allow cars to be made that only use leaded gas until people stop buying them. Great theory, one that the GOP uses when touting everything should be market place driven, but the reality as shown time and time again is that employers/businesses put their bottom line first, not what is good for the general public.

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Posted by: Stephen S | January 15, 2014 12:42 PM

Here's an idea, why not let the gov't program (ACA) compete head to head with the original public market place? Let the public decide which they like better and the insurance industry and businesses can continue as usual. Insurers can offer ACA compliant policies as well as continue their older non compliant policies. When the non compliant policies become unprofitable, they can revise or replace them with compliant policies under ACA. This will allow the ACA program time to get up to speed and get the bugs worked out without disrupting the entire industry. What do you think?

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