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Posted: March 01, 2011

Obama-Care’s here, for better or worse

Businesses seek clarity
on landmark legislation

Debra Melani

EmployeeBenefits_Mar11.jpg

A year after President Obama's health-care reform was signed into law, frustration still reigns among many Colorado businesspeople. Pending lawsuits. Political bullying. Tenuous guidelines. These are just some of the reasons cited for their aggravation, with many in the state's work force saying the unknown distracts from focusing on the business at hand.

Despite the worries, many business and
health-reform leaders report the first year under the Affordable Care Act in Colorado went fairly well. And some state officials (including Gov. John Hickenlooper in his inaugural address) have a plea for all the business folks out there: Ignore the rhetoric, accept the inevitability of some change, and join efforts in making the landmark legislation work best for the state and its businesses.

"Until the Congress or the courts decide
otherwise, we have a responsibility to implement this and implement this well," said Lorez Meinhold, health policy director for Hickenlooper. "The
current system doesn't work that well for small businesses, and this is a step in the right direction."

For the ranks in the business trenches,
however, putting the distractions of political rhetoric and slow-motion bureaucracy aside isn't that easy.

Time of uncertainty
At Keller Bros. Auto in Littleton, executives consider insuring their 23 employees and their families a key to attracting and retaining a quality work force. But they are weary of the exaggerations, misinformation and stalemates resulting from political posturing, as the Republicans now set their sights on crippling the reform act by denying funding.

"We believe that it's very important for Congress to work these things through and decide what they are and aren't going to fund," said Keller Bros. COO David Rogers. "We really fear that things are not being revealed in a transparent way to those of us who are going to end up funding this. We were promised transparency and bipartisanship, and we aren't seeing any of that. Do I know what the truth is? No, ma'am, I wish I did."

Rogers' frustrations run deep in the business community, especially the fear of the unknown, according to William Lindsay, chairman for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and an executive with Lockton Cos.

"There's a great deal of angst out there in terms of understanding what the rules are, when they apply, and what they will mean," Lindsay said.

Some reforms slated for this year and 2012 - such as complicated notice-to-employee requirements for employers and a controversial no-discrimination in coverage provision - have been postponed, he said. A 1099 reporting mandate set for 2012 requiring businesses to report all transactions of $600 or more has spurred much criticism because of the predicted cost and red tape it would create for businesses. Many industry experts predict a repeal of the provision, citing bipartisan support.

Few tears are being shed because the provisions are not in place. The no-discrimination provision, for instance, which would prevent the common practice of "carving out" lower-paid, often-transient employees from coverage in such businesses as hotels and restaurants, could halt some employers' ability to provide insurance at all, Lindsay said. But the uncertainty still looms, making it hard for businesses to plan.

"Putting it on hold doesn't mean the concern goes away. In many cases for people in business, uncertainty is even worse than certainty, even when the certainty isn't positive."
But becoming mired in the negatives of the 2,000-plus-page act is not a proactive stance for business owners to take, Meinhold said. "The law's not perfect." Community forums held across Colorado, so far focused largely on the insurance exchanges slated for 2014, will continue, she said. "My plea would be that businesses stay engaged so that we can help work through these issues."

Cost worries persist

For critics of the reform law, cost was an immediate top-button issue, and anxieties remain in the business community. "Employers had a hope and an expectation that health reform might help from a cost standpoint, and obviously, we're not seeing that at all," Lindsay said. "If anything, costs will be increasing over the next two years."

Lindsay cites cost-shifting as the federal government begins reducing reimbursement to doctors and hospitals for Medicare patients as one price booster. But Meinhold argues that won't be an issue in Colorado, where a provider fee, generating federally matched funds, helps increase reimbursements and prevent cost-shifting.

In response to widespread cost concerns, Colorado's insurance commissioner ordered a review of all 2010 premium increases. The review found that reform accounted for no more than 5 percent of the increase for any plan, with most reform-related hikes falling in the 2-percent-to-3-percent range.

Colorado already had many of the provisions required by the federal law in place last year, said Steve Roper, president of Roper Insurance and Financial Services. So the premium increases were minimal this time. That doesn't mean it will hold true in the future, said Roper, who does business in other states, which he said saw "a tremendous impact."

Still, some would argue it's a price worth paying. Colorado employers face premium hikes every year, often hefty hikes spurred largely by medical inflation. But for last year's relatively minimal reform-related increases, employees actually received something, said Denise de Percin, executive director for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. For instance, provisions now implemented in all health-care plans include no lifetime limits, 100-percent coverage for preventive care and no pre-existing condition restrictions for children.

Michael Enright, whose son has Type 1 diabetes, has no complaints about reform changes. "Imagine my concerns for his health later in life, if there's a lifetime limit on his coverage," said Enright, president of AAA Service Plumbing, Heating & Electric Inc. in Arvada. "Just his medications are $950 a month," said Enright, who provides "generous" health-insurance coverage to his 60 employees and their families.

A self-proclaimed contrarian, Enright criticizes his peers' cost complaints and their calls for tax breaks. "These fund things that are important to society - things that are going to help us thrive. If a business has to have all kinds of breaks to survive, they have no business being in business."

Breaking the broker?

Of the new reform provisions being implemented this year, only one is creating a big stir in the business community: the Medical Loss Ratio. The provision requires that 80 percent of premiums for individual and small group and 85 percent for large group go toward medical, not administrative, expenses. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners then ruled that broker fees must be calculated as administrative costs.

One feared response, which Roper said is already becoming reality in the individual market, is that companies will cut broker commissions, putting the future of that profession in question. For the National Federation of Independent Business, the first point of contention with the MLR provision is ideological: "We don't believe it's the government's job to be telling people how much they can spend in administration," said Tony Gagliardi, NFIB Colorado/Wyoming state director.

The NFIB and more than 25 states, including Colorado, joined a lawsuit claiming the individual mandate - which requires all Americans have insurance - is unconstitutional. A Jan. 31 ruling by a federal judge in Florida evened the score to 2-2, siding with a fellow judge in Virginia, who agreed Congress had overstepped its constitutional bounds. Two other lower-court rulings dismissed the constitutionality claims. The Florida judge went further than his colleague, however, ruling the entire law should be repealed. The case appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

But more importantly, Gagliardi said, now is not the time, in the midst of this massive reform, to run the brokers out of business. "I have members who have told me: If it weren't for the broker, I would have no clue even knowing where to begin."

Roper predicts many brokers will close shop, unable to provide the level of service consumers want with lower pay. "It's going to be 1-800-GOODLUCK. I foresee a lot of self-service models, which are not effective. Try getting help from Microsoft."

For his business, staying apprised of the reform rules has already required assigning one employee to the task full time. It's costly, time-consuming and requiring him to change his business model, which he says many of his baby-boomer colleagues are not willing to do. "They've spent their whole careers getting to this point, and now with all of the changes, they aren't willing to make that leap," Roper said.

Some brokers might turn to a customer-fee-based model, but that places another burden on small businesses, many of whom won't be able to afford it, Roper said.
Rather than focus on the unknowns, businesses should look at what is happening right now (see sidebar) and decide how it affects them, Meinhold said. Then, have patience and take part in the process, she said. "It's going to take us time to get it right."

Obama-Care Issues and Answers

Exchanges: Armed with stakeholders' suggestions that it start with a Colorado-only exchange with quasi-governmental oversight, the state Legislature is forming the governance body, which will outline recommendations for creating the exchange (or exchanges). Chief business issues to watch: Will "small employer" (eligible for exchanges in 2014) be defined as 50 or fewer, or 100 or fewer, and will there be two separate exchanges, or one combined exchange for individual and group plans?

Small-business tax credit: While many brokers contend the credit is too small to make a difference, the state says insurers are reporting an increase in the number of small businesses buying policies, and that many companies could be saving thousands of dollars, but don't know it.


At-risk pools: Many states have reported low participation in the high-risk pools, aimed at sole proprietors and individuals unable to find insurance because of pre-existing conditions. But the state says, with more than 450 Coloradans signed up as of January, its program is on track. Launched in July, the state estimated 4,000 people could benefit.
For more information: www.Colorado.gov/healthreform

2011
• Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) requirements 
 for health plans
• HSA and FSA limits on nonprescribed
 items
• Employers can participate in CLASS,
 federally subsidized long-term care
• Penalty for nonqualified HSA expenses
increases to 20 percent
• Small groups can adopt a simple
cafeteria plan
• Small group wellness credit available

2012
• 1099 reporting for business transactions
of $600 or more
• Annual reports to HHS on improving
quality of care and wellness
• W-2 reporting of employer and employee share of premium (reported 2012)
• Uniform explanation of coverage

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Readers Respond

i day potato and you say potato; if you had read my post you would have seen what you claimed you missed. You say I shouldn't believe what insurance companies tell me, but I suggest that I can trust them more that someone who is OBVIOUSLY campaigning to pass a government monstrosity. The 40% was the LOWEST quote and as usual, a metro person makes sweeping generalizations without a clue about what it does to rural Colorado. Of course the increases were because of obamacare. Adding the silly part about insuring kids until they were 26 etc etc etc HAD to add money. ANY businessman who can count KNEW that the hc premiums HAD to go up. It was just a question of how much. Small businesses are being forced to pay for the deadbeats in our society who don't buy hc insurance. PLEASE don't bore me with the usual liberal stories about poor sick kids etc etc. My wife incurred over TWO MILLION in health care expense in the last two years and has about another million to go for heart surgery in a month. Guess what???? I had health insurance and they PAID for it. Isn't that an interesting concept??? buy insurance and then they pay for it. Our country CANNOT continue to pay for the deadbeats who don't carry their share of the load. As I said before, I don't know a SINGLE business person in rural Colorado who is for obamacare. I'm on the governors "bottom up" committee and I can't find anyone there who wants it either. One of our suggestions will be to NOT add any more insurance costs and to get rid of obama care. I hope our governor listens. By john wray on 2011 03 19
Whoa there, Mr. Wray. Where did I call you a liar? I believe I said, "I think the writer was given bad information." Read my post and see. How much more civil could that have been? I missed the part where you said you were shopping and another plan costs more than your current plan, mistakenly thinking that was your renewal. Just a hint, don't believe everything insurance companies and their reps tell you, especially about why they're raising rates. I am fairly certain that no companies will explain their real reasons for rate hikes, that's proprietary information, and it's easy to blame "Obamacare." They generally don't even tell agents the details. Insurers have billions at stake in this whole issue of the PPACA and I think that's where the repeal push comes from. They don't like paying out 80% of premiums in small group claims as the law requires. That means if they raise premiums they must spend 80% of that increase on us, not on their execs or on lobbying. Insurers also don't like the outside appeal panel for wrongly denied claims. That really cramps the style of the less ethical companies. I know this whole thing is tough on a small businessman and employees. Of course the tax credit takes some of the sting away, but still it's tough for you, especially in this rugged economy. By Robert Gunnett on 2011 03 19
I already "jumped in " here and you called me a liar. hmmm. oh well, it's what I expect from a liberal who's job is to promote obama care. I DO appreciate the other poster who exposed that. I WAS SPECIFICALLY told that the increases were because of obamacare. Perhaps, just perhaps, you have figured it out. I am a SMALL BUSINESSMAN who is on the eastern plains. MOST of the insurance companies have pulled out of rural coverage and the rest raised their prices a ton. that's the LEAST of the problems out here, because we will eventually have NO hc because the doctors can't make a living and will retire or move. AGAIN, this is the "law of unintended consequences" that comes from poorly thought out legislation. obama care has a hidden 150 billion cost built in ahead of time and the "bill had to be passed to know what's in it" I wonder who said that.?? Why in God's name would ANYONE trust this administration when all was done behind closed doors? All we had to do was to allow groups to form ACROSS STATE LINES and get rid of the hundreds of stupid mandates; you know like swimming etc etc etc. obamacare IS a monstrosity that will destroy rural health care and the people out here KNOW IT. In case you missed it, that's why the Dem's got wiped out last election. I know, the voters are stupid and unaware according to a metro liberal By john wray on 2011 03 18
Can anyone jump in here? As a career insurance broker I've read every article I have seen on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including this one. It's the law, probably neither as good as some say, nor as bad as others say. Insurance companies still run the show. I received Anthem BC/BS and Humana renewals for two existing groups this week. Humana health increased 14.78%, Anthem BC/BS about a third of that. Why were the renewals so low? They are "grandfathered," i.e. no plan or employer contribution changes in the past year so they're exempt from PPACA changes. That is why I question a business owner saying their renewal premium jumped 40% because of the new law. The ACA isn't priced into existing, grandfathered groups, according to insurers. I think the writer was given bad information. "How were we supposed to pay for "kids" up to age 26, unlimited limits etc etc etc." Businesses don't pay for those students unless they elect to. That's the parents' benefit and their cost. Unlimited limits apparently aren't very expensive. How many people have you ever known who have amassed $1,000,000 in claims? In my 25 years in the business, writing both large and small groups, I've had one group insured do that. I think she hit $2,000,000. It may be a non-issue. By Robert Gunnett on 2011 03 18
Regardless of what your article's actual content is, why the inflammatory headline calling the program "ObamaCare"? Would you call the Iraq War "BushWar"? "FDRGift" for Social Security? Whatever its limitations, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care legislation passed by a majority of the Congress represents a historically significant step in helping hundreds of millions of Americans attain and maintain better health. If you want to pursue a particularly political line, go for it. But, as Sen Moynihan famously cautioned, "You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts." By Philip Gordon on 2011 03 14
Has everybody heard about the 150 BILLION that was hidden withing obamacare??? It's one of the more amazing bits of legistative stealing and manipulation ever seen in our government. Why no comments in our liberal press?? By john wray on 2011 03 10
btw, thou doth protest too much. Your attempted defense of an indefensible position with such vehemence proves my case. I think you are talking to yourself, which I suspect you do a lot, because I STRONLY doubt if most people waste their time reading you "columns." It's just that most people wouldn't waste one second on you and m aybe they/re right By john wray on 2011 03 09
John H, I usually do respond to absurd ad hominem attacks, which is what you've been doing since I had the audacity to confront your far left diatribes. I COMPLETELY believe that you have "DOZENS" of columns because that's what liberals do. YOU KNOW that the public has pretty much lost confidence in "column writers" and you're the classic reason why. Of course I exposed you and you just affirmed it. I haven't bothered to read past the first sentence of your elitist responses because you are COMPLETELY predictable. Thanks for your help in exposing such a wasted career. Liberals are SO predictable that it's really quite easy to help them expose themselves. Thanks for the entertainment. btw, putting those silly letters after your name does more than I could ever do to expose you. Others on THIS blog have agreed with me and you know it which is what upsets you so badly. Trust me, I wouldn't waste one second of anger on someone that I did not respect and I certainly don't respect a typical liberal media type like you. I TRUELY have enjoyed it. By john wray on 2011 03 09
Mr. Wray --- I usually do not respond to absurd ad hominem attacks. However...I'm not sure what you think you've "exposed." This is sounding more than a little disturbed and obsessive on your part, and is getting more than a bit creepy. My opinions and political leanings are well-known to any who know even a little about me throughout the Front Range. There is nothing to "expose," and you're not an intrepid investigative reporter tracking down some elusive prey. I'm pretty "out there" for all to see, and always have been. And I am proud of where I stand politically and socially. I am socially very Progressive, fiscally pretty Conservative, though neither is always true...like any THINKING man, it depends on the issue. But I have hundreds of columns, in this publication, in the past in the Denver Business Journal, in numerous other publications, and in my own blogs. Anyone who knows how to Google can find out these things and more about me. I actively invite this scrutiny, as I am proud of most things I have done and of my belief system. If you, or anyone else, seeks some sort of overarching philosophy that can put me into a Conservative or Liberal box...good luck. There is none. I look at all sides of an argument and, like rational people are SUPPOSED to do, form an opinion from what I can discover and learn. However, I have frequently CHANGED my opinions based on NEW information....which some unthinking people call "flip-flopping," but THINKING people call rational re-evaluation. Mr. Wray...minds are like parachutes. They tend to work better when open, not closed tightly. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't make them either evil or wrong. Your opinion, contrary to what you may think, is just another opinion. Opinions are like behinds. Everyone has one. Most of them stink. And I include my opinions (as well as yours) in that. Now, please go "expose" someone who is not standing in a clearing in the sharp light of day for everyone to see. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 03 09
btw, "opinions" based on FACT are MUCH better than ones like yours that are based on MSNBC etc. You haven't contradicted my FACT of a 40% increase in hc costs that are DIRECTLY attributed to obamacare. How were we supposed to pay for "kids" up to age 26, unlimited limits etc etc etc. The increased mandates are FACT and their OBVIOUS increase costs are FACt. John H. PLEASE stop trying to spread obama's agenda. How much are they paying you and have you reported it??? and for what it's worth, I'd put up my business experience, intelligence, advanced degrees against yours any day. I just am not so arrogant as to think that posting them on EVERY post will bring me credibility, when, in fact, they do the opposite By john wray on 2011 03 09
Sorry John H. but you've opened the door to your arrogant soul again. Your elitism is clear beyond the pale. If you REALLY were a businessman then all of the complaints about obamacare would be obvious to you. READ the comment about "cost shifting" It says is clearly and well. When you are as left as you are, you simply cannot see ANY truth that isn't the one that you believe in. I DO appreciate having helped to expose your left wing approach to all of this. That's REALLY all I wanted to do. There is NO way to get through to someone like you, but elitism ALWAYS rears it's ugly head when pushed and you followed down the same road as many other lefties. thanks that now everyone can see through your veneer. By john wray on 2011 03 09
I'm just curious as to the phone number or email address of the divine source that some of the more rabid posters seem to have that is telling them all the people who disagree with them are wrong and they are 100% right. See, I kinda think that, absent a verifiable divine revelation, such as the clouds opening and the Deity appearing in full regalia giving me information, that my OPINION can be dead wrong. This thought does not seem to be present in some of the posters who are absolutely dead SURE of their OPINIONS being verifiable divine truth. So, I'll bite. Phone number or email address of G-d please? I have several things I'd like to talk to Him about. If you don't have that available, please calm down and realize that your opinion is no better (or worse) than anyone else's. And stop the ad hominem attacks. They only make YOU look bad or crazy. Failing that....a couple of gin and tonics or a Valium might help. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 03 09
Cost shifting not a problem? Where do they thing the "provider funds" will come from? How about matching federal funds? Do they think that this money will appear out of thin air? Provider fees will be rolled into the health care cost and federal matching funds are from tax dollars. I guess that makes sense if you're not the one paying taxes. The whole health care law is about cost shifting. Shifting cost to employers. Shifting cost to healthy persons. Shifting costs from those that have money to those who don't. By John Gimple on 2011 03 09
btw, colorado insurance government types COULDN'T know what the increases are because most of these costs aren't evident yet. The price increases ARE HUGE and cannot be denied by any government report. I'm continually amazed by the media types who ACCEPT government reports as if they ever have been true By john wray on 2011 03 09
sorry publisher, but your "experts" report IS WRONG. I have talked to dozens of business owners and EVERY ONE of them report approx 40% increases in premiums do to obama care. How in god's name could anyone expect anything else when we added "kids" until they were 26 etc etc etc. The increased mandates caused an IMMEDIATE increase in premium. I have ALREADY laid off one employee and MOST of my business owner friends have done likewise or are planning to do it. facts are facts. government agencies have NEVER been right about costs and most people know that. the usual figure is to triple the reported costs for a closer figure. In this case, I believe it's more like EIGHT times. facts are facts folks and government reports are ALWAYS ficticious. By john wray on 2011 03 09
Certainly, liberal and conservative views are welcome here. My understanding of the objective to mandate that all Americans carry health insurance is that by adding young and otherwise healthy Americans to the insured pool (and who are currently not inclined to buy insurance) is a win for insurance providers, resulting in lower costs. Insurers seem open to this possibility. Debra notes that "Colorado's insurance commissioner ordered a review of all 2010 premium increases. The review found that reform accounted for no more than 5 percent of the increase for any plan, with most reform-related hikes falling in the 2-percent-to-3-percent range". My suggestion would be to follow their lead. By Publisher on 2011 03 09
Sorry, but John H shows his color again. No one cares what you SAY about yourself; your words say it all. I see that in the last couple of posts, that you are trying to regain some credibility; It won't work because I will CONTINUE to expose you. You have noticed that recent responses tend to be against you haven't you??? You are REALLY a politician, you know the ones that you try to discredit as if you're a tea partier. You OBVIOUSLY don't have a clue what left or right is except to try to push your elitist liberal views off as middle of the road. You should stick to selling real estate. I'm sure that the short term "relationships" that you develop there serve you well, but I suspect that you are frustrated by not being able to espouse you liberal views to your customers at risk of losing the sale. It's tough being a shape changer isn't it?? You follow like a guppie. By john wray on 2011 03 09
I think that anyone even slightly to the left of Michelle Bachman is probably considered by Mr. Wray to be "far left." I am constantly getting grief from my Progressive friends about being "reactionary," and my Conservative friends about being a "commie." As the great Anglican writer C.S. Lewis said, "If the Lilliputians think that I am a giant and the Giants think I am a Pygmy, perhaps I am, indeed, of average height." By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 03 09
rich, outstanding post. John H has certainly showed himself politically no matter what he CALLS himself. He is a far left liberal and is DESPARATELY trying to seem rational. He even admits that obamacare is bad legislation. ricks comment that the time for the rational debate was right on. John H's sweeping generalizations about politicians are beyond the pale and pretty much negate any or everything that he posts. Unless you have rational debate, (to use your term) you have nothing and you simply wipe away all of the parties with one grandious wave of you pen. hmmmm doesn't make sense to me. WE HAVE no choice but to work with what we have and thank God, that we may get rid of the left in 2012. They have little chance to hold on to any power and we can start over and do it right. By john wray on 2011 03 09
Debra thanks for the terrific article. I follow the health care dialogue on the site with interest and obviously prefer when issues are at the forefront of the debate. Nice job framing the issues for business. It's hard for me to view the reform legislation as socialist; I agree with John's definition. Is the mandate? Frankly, if adding 30 million Americans to the insured pool (the GIFT, John?) lowers the exposure and loss-ratios of big insurance and results in lower fees for employers, I'm not sure I care what you call it. Business, and working Americans, need relief. By Publisher on 2011 03 08
Look --- I don't like this health care law, either. I think it is a great GIFT to Big Insurance and Big Pharm. No, I don't have a very big dog in this fight because I am covered by my company's health insurance and, as a business owner, can change insurance companies should I get close to a lifetime maximum. No, I don't like the mandate, although I can logically see the reasons for it, and can't think of an alternative yet. I'd love to see some common sense reforms. These aren't going to happen in the political climate in America right now. Everything is hyper-partisan, angry and strident. I am NEITHER a Dempublican nor a Republocrat. BOTH are bought and paid for by mega-corporations who don't care a rat's behind for you or me or for the vast majority of the American people. BOTH are sold out to major corporate interests. That isn't "socialist," by the way. The technical term for that is "fascist." "Socialism" is when government OWNS the means of production. Government is far from doing that, except in the case of GM for a short period of time (which I disagreed with a lot!). I just wish people would know what these terms mean before throwing them around to label others. But health care reform is ESSENTIAL for our country. We are spending trillions of dollars on emergency care when people are very sick and hit hospitals. The loss of lives due to people in America having no health care is shameful. And America is NOT first in health care. I think we're something like 37th. We DON'T have "the best health care in the world." We are also pretty bad on infant mortality, life expectancy, and many other measures of a good health care system. http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html Disagree, Rick...fine. I am not objecting to that, of course. I am objecting to the ranting and raving that goes on whenever this subject is mentioned or written about...even in a neutral article like this one that is merely informative about the facts of the health care act, and the absolute hatred of the President (whom I do not like, either) whenever his name is mentioned. I didn't like President Bush, either, but didn't rant and rave about him. For better or worse, they are duly elected and deserve some respect for the office, if not for the (usually corrupt) person. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 03 08
John Heckers... the time for non-partisan civil discussion on this issue was when it was created. And it was not done at that time by the design of those in the(duly elected)Obama administration. This legislation is "bad" legislation and needs to be dissected in open forums on any level. It is fiscally irresponsible. It was done in the darkness by those that know what is better for the majority than we do. Obama, Pelosi and Reid come to mind. Remember November? As you have discovered the passion is heated on both sides of this issue. You are right.. the world will not end over this and there are some very important issues addressed by this bill. But it is bad overall legislation and no matter how much you don't want it labeled "socialist".. it is. Reality is that it is "mandated socialized health care". You have exposed your dog in this fight. I understand your concern with insurance companies and your support of government mandated health care. It doesn't change the fact that this is bad legislation. Question: Are you good with the fact that someone free to decide for themselves to participate in health insurance or that a business providing health care as an incentive are now MANDATED to participate/pay? There are better ways to rein in big insurance abuses. Here's a reality to consider. This a taxpayer revolt against big government! Too simple? And, by the way, I don't hate you or the President. I just don't agree with either of you. By Rick in Parker on 2011 03 08
and btw, sometimes adapting leads you down the road to ruin. Us small business people are the worlds greatest "adapters" and we know the difference between adaptation for survival and adaptation for ruin. obamacare is a disaster and will be the end of this economy and the road to Greece etc. By john wray on 2011 03 04
Doug, the NFIB REPRESENTS the small businesses in this country; you know the ones who ACTUALLY create the jobs and the commerce. Oh, I'll bet you forgot that. In fact almost ALL small businesses are contributing huge amounts of money to get conservatives elected and our totally inexperienced president fired and obama care repealed. 80% of this country is conservative and they woke up in 2010. They haven't gone back to sleep. I am involved in several community organizations and have not met ONE small business person who is for obamacare. Her article wasn't bad because it crystalized the issues and that's good. obama care is doomed and the liberals don't know it yet. Doctors HATE obama care. By john wray on 2011 03 04
Debra's article is informative and relatively balanced. However those who are fighting the changes, including brokers and the NFIB, need to remember that businesses are like any other species on the planet. The world changes and if you don't adapt and evolve, you die. Free market competition will those who are nimble enough to adapt to the health care market changes and turn the changes to their advantage and will punish, and perhaps eliminate, those who don't. That is the Darwinian feature of our market system that keeps it efficient. By Doug Foote on 2011 03 04
Thanks Robert, sometimes I think that most people disagree with John H and his type but don't bother to respond. I do understand that reaction to his conclusory posts, but we can't let the left wingers take over the dialogue on the internet. He ignored my FACTUAL comments before and he ignore them this time also. The insurance companies are not my favorites but they are simply a business like any other. My wife had SEVERAL MILLION $ in health care bills last year alone, but I had adequate insurance and I PAID for it like others should she has about 12 doctors and ten of them have quit taking medicare patients and will retire if forced to. How is that going to leave us in rural areas??? John doesn't care about that; it's called the law of unintended consequences and it's REALLY going to get us with our unqualified dreamer of a president. He's gone in 2012 for sure to be placed right up there with the greats like Jimmy Carter By john wray on 2011 03 04
As John H's master "troller" I feel the need (and enjoyment) to put him in his place. obamacare WAS ruled unconstitutional and ordered to not be implemented which our current administration has chosen to ignore. That isn't just hyperbole, it's the LAW. Obama care is officially unconstitutional and if you don't understand the law, please don't comment on it. I DO understand it (a jd at the end of MY name is ONE of my degrees) and as of now it's done. I am REALLY tired of John H's holier than thou approach to this board and his articles. It is NOT his place to judge what's trolling, or partisanship or ANYTHING else. He really should re read all of his hate posts. By John Wray on 2011 03 03
I won't waste anyone's time echoing John Wray's comments about Hecker's posts--they are right on target. What I'll add is that he is consistently absent factual backup for his partisan claims. Where are his specifics on "inaccurate statements" made today? Where does he see hatred? It is a tired canard of the left to label any discourse "uncivil" when opposing points of view are aired. Sophmoric at best. Finally, his assertion that this law will NOT be repealed is just that, his assertion. A substitute bill that does address some valid health care issues will be introduced after Obamacare is repealed as the first order of busines in January 2013. That's my assertion. In the meantime, while I have compassion for anyone with Type 1 Diabetes, I do not want to be forced under penalty of fines and imprisonment to help pay for their care. That's unconstitutional and violates common sense. By Robert White on 2011 03 03
on second thought, you did finally bring something out into the light. You have a vested self serving interest which helps me to understand why you are SO angry about ANY complaint about this law that WILL be repealed at least in 2012 before it's gets fully implemented although the courts should get it first. Why not just pay your own insurance costs. By JOhn Wray on 2011 03 03
Is it possible that we can get John Heckers and his hyper partisnship from commenting on these boards. He makes hostile and conclusory comments about others as if he is lord and master and gets to decide what's a real discussion and what isn't. I posted EXACT figures and comments about what obamacare did to my business and you belittle them. You are fast losing any credibility that you might have had and the letters after your name give you NO extra cred. I have no respect for you and/or your opinions so I don't care what you post and I suspect that there are others who feel the same. Obama care ALREADY cost one job and it'll cost hundreds of thousands nation wide and that's the facts folks. By JOhn Wray on 2011 03 03
Thank you, Debra. This was a very helpful and informative article. Is it at all possible to have a rational, civil discussion on this issue? I am really tired of the hyper-partisan, and often inaccurate, statements about this law. I'm also tired of the "trolling" on these boards, where some of the same people are simply venting their spleens again and again, going over and over the same partisan (and often inaccurate) statements. I'd love to see an actual discussion of this issue that does not include hatred for our (duly elected) President, inflated claims of the ending of the world, absurd claims of "socialism," or other unhelpful name-calling and labeling. This law,like it or not, is, as the columnist said, the law of the land at this time. It may get revised, but it will NOT get totally repealed...certain provisions are way too popular. Let's discuss ways to make this work for small business, and how we can influence the revisions of this law to work for society, not just for a few. And, by the way, as a Type I Diabetic, I bless this law for an ending of lifetime maximums and the ability of Big Insurance to do whatever they feel like to me on a whim. We NEED a law like this to rein in Big Insurance abuses...which are many. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 03 03
I like the Titanic comment. My insurance rates went up FORTY PERCENT and that was after talking to 1/2 dozen companies. EVERYONE of them said the same thing; Because of obamacare and the new mandates these are the increases. Obama care gas ALREADY caused me to let one employee go. (out of 12) because I couldn't afford the hc. I'm absolutely amazed that Hickenlooper would follow the "party line" on this subject because it is OBVIOUSLY a political comment. I was actually hoping that Hickenlooper was smarter than that. Evidently he's not. By John Wray on 2011 03 03
RE: "And some state officials (including Gov. John Hickenlooper in his inaugural address) have a plea for all the business folks out there: Ignore the rhetoric, accept the inevitability of some change, and join efforts in making the landmark legislation work best for the state and its businesses." WRONG! the so-called "rhetoric" is not to be ignored. The more that light is shined on this montrous intrusion on liberty, the better. And, "accept the inevitability" ... that's what got this nation into this mess. I for one will not disengage from this debate and my fellow small businesswomen and men are now awake and engaged. The Democrats forced this incomprehensable and unconstitutional bill through Congress and it must not be allowed to stand. This article is one of those "arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" efforts -- let's get lost in the minutia so people will not notice that the premise, inevitable change and eventually government run health care, is fatally flawed. By Robert White on 2011 03 03
My employees have already figured this out. If the "penalty" is less than the cost of paying for hc, then small businesses will opt out, pay the penalty and dump their employees in a public pool. In other words, the government will end up with everyone sooner or later even though they left that out. The Dem's will get what they want through the "back door" that's the money part and MOST of the rural doctors have already said that they will not take medicare or state pool patients. They pay too little and it takes too long and the doctors have to hire 2 or 3 extra admin personnel in order to process government receivables. This is the unseen consequences of obama care. Our hc will detiorate quickly. this is realism By John Wray on 2011 03 03

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