I read with much interest Congressman Jason Smith’s “Capitol Report” column published in the December 4th Herald. He has a litany of bad news.
His example of the “business in Bonne Terre” being forced to layoff 100 workers or pay stiff fines to comply with the ACA neglected to mention the third option this company likely has which is to provide an affordable health insurance plan for their employees. Premiums paid by the employer for such a plan are tax deductible for the company. From my reading of the ACA the basic penalty for not providing a plan is $2000 times the number of employees minus 30. In this case that would be $2000 x (180-30) = $300,000 which is less than half of the $700,000 alleged to be owed in fines “to comply with Obamacare.” Providing your most valuable asset, your employees, with health insurance and getting a tax break for doing so rather than paying a non-deductible fine sounds like a very viable third option to me.
The individual claiming cancellation of his previous insurance and his only (?) new choice was a doubling of premium and an implied higher deductible sounds eerily similar to the case presented in the Republican response to the State ofthe Union address. That turned out to be not so much a horror story as simply a refusal to avail oneself of the benefits of the ACA. A responsible reaction to his constituent’s complaints might be to help him take advantage of the benefits of the law rather than using his frustration to promote Mr. Smith’s own political agenda.
Finally, Mr. Smith’s rehashing of the Jonathan Gruber comments concerning the purported lack of transparency in efforts to pass the ACA is also a bit disingenuous. Those statements from 2012 have been discussed and placed in context by various commentators and reveal no more than the usual political rhetoric and strategies that often accompany major legislative efforts.
While Mr. Smith drones on about “job killing Obamacare”, the Labor Department reports the strongest job growth in 15 years. While he whines about business-stifling regulations, the stock market flirts with record highs almost daily. While participating in the time and money wasting efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare uninsured rate and the increase in healthcare spending continues to decline. While decrying uncontrolled spending and lack of leadership, the 2014 Federal deficit is the lowest since 2008 and gasoline prices are approaching $2 per gallon. What’s with this guy?