I often hear worries from people in my district about the effects of the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare. As a small business owner I also have many concerns about the efficiency and cost of the system when it goes into effect. I was invited by the National Federation of Independent Businesses to speak on behalf of small business owners in Indiana to testify at a Congressional Subcommittee meeting entitled 'The Recent Health Care Law: Consequences for Indiana Families and Workers'.
The hearing, which was held this week, was for the Congressional Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions and was conducted by two members: Chairman Phil Roe and Congressman Larry Bucshon. They invited a small group of individuals to testify from many different backgrounds in southern Indiana including small business owners, doctors, representatives from large manufacturing companies in the area and several others.
We all agreed that there were few worthy goals in the new health care reform law; mainly including allowing dependent coverage for individuals up to age 26 and removing pre-existing condition exclusions. But the reality for many is that medical costs and medical insurance costs will increase. Congress, before enacting Obamacare, projected that there would be an increase of only two to four percent in most insurance rates - when in actuality rates have currently increased 30-50 percent for individuals and small groups. They are expected to go up another 50-90 percent for individuals and 10-30 percent for small groups by 2014.
We were each allowed to give a five minute oral testimony in front of the panel and I laid out my concerns. My company, Messmer Mechanical, Inc., that I co-own in Jasper with my two brothers has already seen a 44 percent increase in our small group health insurance plan this year due to Obamacare; and we pay 100 percent of our employees' health insurance costs. Rising medical insurance costs made it impossible to provide any raises during the 2009 and 2010 recession, and has made it extremely difficult to reinvest in our business.
I believe that the small business tax credit will be very counterproductive to the very idea of growing a business. People that are successful, instead of being encouraged, will be penalized for that success by having to pay enormous penalties and extra costs. Our worry is that if we expand our business beyond the 47 people we currently employ that the cost will be too much if we want to stay with a private and not a government health insurance plan. There are additional mandates that kick in for companies with more than 50 employees.
I believe that the consensus from the testimony was that business owners from southern Indiana, and all over the country, are uncertain of the ramifications of this mandated insurance. Due to this uncertainty businesses will likely not be investing in their companies and hiring more employees for fear of the additional costs that will be imposed on them. Instead, most employers and individuals will pay the penalties rather than the unaffordable insurance plans when the mandates take effect in 2014. The new law intentionally drives up the cost of insurance to force employers to drop health insurance, therefore forcing their employees into the government plans in 2014.
The Affordable Care Act is anything but 'affordable'. It will only further harm the economy in Indiana and the United States as a whole. The Indiana General Assembly passed several laws this year that will help reduce some of the harmful effects of Obamacare, and currently Indiana is one of the 26 states have filed suit with the federal government questioning the constitutionality of Obamacare.
We will continue to work to try to ensure that Hoosiers will have the right to spend their money as they choose to, and that Indiana businesses can continue to grow and flourish, providing jobs for our economy.
Rep. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper)