Focus on Small Business

Two Republican Representatives are calling on President Obama to do more for small business when it comes to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). Representatives Jim Risch of Idaho and Sam Graves of Missouri feel small business should be at the heart of our economic recovery, yet the Obama administration is “drowning Main Street in regulations.” They cite Karen Mills resignation from the Small Business Administration (SBA) back in February, 2013, and that it took 11 months to appoint a new SBA head. Risch and Graves point out that since Ms. Mills left the SBA the administration has issued some 3,854 regulations collectively costing business $112 billion.

Risch and Graves also cite added misery to small business in the form of health care plan cancellations due to Obamacare, and the promise of keeping coverage having been broken – by Washington.

Read more at The Hill

Now on Your Restaurant Bill: Obamacare Fee

A political or financial move by a Florida restaurant chain? Or a little of both? At Gator’s Dockside restaurants, be prepared to leave a little extra after your meal. It’s not an added tip, or promulgated tax, rather an “ACA Surcharge”. Diners at eight of the restaurant chain’s venues are discovering the one percent surcharge on their tabs. Signs on the door and at tables alert diners to the fee, which also shows separately on customers’ checks. The sign reads: “The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors. Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator’s Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.” Yet, the Gator Group’s full time hourly workers won’t have health insurance until December, 2014. The company defends its action by claiming it’s facing compliance costs ahead of Obamacare’s employer mandate – taking effect in 2015. Gator Group employs 500 people, half are full-time. Only management receives health coverage.

The restaurant will have to offer coverage to all full-timers once the employer mandate takes effect. “I’m just trying to keep the employees that I’ve worked hard to train”, says Sandra Clark, the company’s director of operations.

Read more at CNNMoney.com

Rand Paul Adds Hurdle for Surgeon General Confirmation

Senator Rand Paul says he’ll attempt to block President Obama’s pick for surgeon general. Vivek Murthy faces opposition from Paul over the nominee’s advocacy for Obamacare.

“The majority of Dr. Murthy’s non-clinical experience is in political advocacy. Historically, the surgeon general of the United States has been a position with the purpose of educating Americans so that they may lead healthier lives, rather than advancing a political agenda.”

Earlier this month during a confirmation hearing, Murthy maintained he never viewed the ACA (“Obamacare”) as a perfect solution, but feels it’s a good preliminary step.

Read more at The Washington Post

The Democrats’ War on Work

The Chair of the House Republican Conference is attacking Democrats’ claim to having a solid economic plan. As part of her challenge arguments, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents Washington’s 5th Congressional district, claims Obamacare will shrink the economy, not expand it, and that: “It’s time to stop imposing the President’s failed health care law on the country.” The Congresswoman hangs her figurative hat one of two Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports. The CBO report dated February 4, 2014, spells out how Obamacare shrinks the labor force by 2.3 million. CBO Director Dougals Elmendorf, in Congressional testimony, has said that reduction in an active labor force is the “central factor in slowing economic growth.”

Rodgers believes Republicans have a plan to “get Washington out of the way” – whether at your physician’s, or workplace.

Read more at Red Alert Politics.com

Health Law’s Small Co-ops Have Mixed Results So Far

Performance by healthcare co-ops, in several states, remains mixed. In Connecticut, HealthyCT whose offices exude as much energy as a start-up company, found Connecticut residents are collectively yawning at attempts to have them join the non-profit cooperative. Only 1,700 customers have signed on. Approximately 3 percent of those purchasing insurance through the state’s new marketplace did so from competitors. Carriers like Anthem and Connecticare are outpacing HealthyCT. Federal lawmakers were hoping for much better, back when they added a provision in the ACA setting up some 23 nonprofit cooperatives. The purpose was to shake up the insurance market. Conversely, in Maine, Maine Community Health options has garnered most of the enrollment in that state, actually outpacing Anthem, its leading competitor. Anthem is a subsidiary of one of the nation’s leading insurers, WellPoint.

Co-ops were a last minute addition to Obamacare, and were offered as an alternative to the Public Option, a plan which would have been offered by the feds. The Public Option has faced a great deal of political opposition. Both insurers and industry experts believe market currents, like price, determine a coops success.

Read more at the New York Times.com

House Republican Who Lost Insurance to Obamacare to Run for Senate in Colorado

Colorado congressman, Cory Gardner, will run against Sen. Mark Udall in the 2014 election. In a recent op-ed, Gardner related his family’s struggle for coverage: “To comply with the myriad new regulations, requirements and mandates of the president’s healthcare law, my family must find a new health care plan.”

Ken Buck who was unsuccessful in a 2010 Senate bid, is dropping out of the Republican Senate primary, and will seek Gardner’s seat. Buck, in the past, has waffled on Obamacare.

Read more at The Washington Examiner

House Republicans Start Drafting Alternative to Obamacare

If it hasn’t started already, it will sooner rather than later. House Republicans are working on plans to kick-off a GOP alternative to Obamacare. The central idea is to come up with healthcare “that actually works, control costs [and] gives the ability for greater choice.” With regard to specific policy components of the emerging GOP proposal, Republicans will have to make decisions about how far coverage will extend, and how their version of healthcare will be addressed in the tax code.

House Republicans are deciding whether their version will be one GOP bill or combination of more than one proposition.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.com

Obamacare Glitches Hurting Delaware Poor

Ouch! Now comes news from Joe Biden’s home state that the Delaware poor are hardest hit by ACA (Obamacare) post-rollout malfunctions. One Delaware resident, Holly Ricchiuti of New Castle, found both her Medicaid coverage and food assistance disappeared. Her eligibility hasn’t changed – rather the snafu is due to a computer backlog, and data issues. No one in the state knows with certainty when it will clear. 350 workers in the Delaware’s Division of Social Services are working on 8,000 such cases.

It’s not just people in Delaware who are going through such benefits ordeals. Others are experiencing Medicaid/Assistance limbo as those state’s social service workers trudge through voluminous backlogs of applications that emerged during the Obamacare roll-out fiasco. Estimated clear-up time for Delaware is five additional weeks.

Read more at Delaware New Journal / Delaware online.com

Obamacare Fixer Zients Brings IPO Past to Economy Post

A Mr. Fixit for the ACA and the economy in general? Jeffrey Zients has a record of making millions with his consulting talent. The 46 year old brought major league baseball back to Washington and rescued the Obamacare rollout. Now, he finds himself having to prove he’s really up to the job as President Barack Obama’s top economic guru, at a time when the strength of the U.S. recovery is questionable. Will Mr. Zient be able to provide further triage – facilitating the repair of Healthcare.gov? Reportedly back on October 24, 2013, Zients told Obama: “ This is fixable.”

Zients’s business acumen is impressive, going as far back as 1990, when he was at the Advisory Board Company. In one week he provided his then boss, David Bradley, with a 15 minute presentation and comprehensive recommendations for all 24 consulting projects he had just been given to research.

Read more at Bloomberg Businessweek

Biden: ‘Single Women With Children in a Dead-End Job’ Can Quit

Joe Biden is now hitting the TV circuit. This time on ABC’s “The View”. “How many of you are single women with children, in a dead-end job?”, Biden asked. He then said: “You’re there because of your health insurance” …”You’re trapped now in that job because if you leave, you lose your health insurance.” Biden’s rosy solution is Obamacare, because it “gives women a great deal more freedom.”

Biden did not go solo selling Obamacare on Tuesday (2/25/2014). Also out and about were the President and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Read more at CNS News.com