• WisBusiness

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Insurance mandate would be job killer for small businesses


By Bill G. Smith
Small-business owners are scratching their heads trying to make sense of the recent healthcare vote in Washington. While American jobs are disappearing and many employers are struggling to make payroll, many on Capitol Hill want to force employers to provide expensive health insurance.

With unemployment now hitting double digits, our elected officials should know better than to impose a job-killing mandate on small employers. It's a bad idea in good times. It's a really bad idea during a recession, and has no place in healthcare reform.

Simply put: employer mandates destroy jobs, and fail to increase choice and competition. A mandate is ultimately a tax on low-income workers, depressing the wages of some and putting others out of work. It doesn't reduce healthcare costs and, instead, substitutes a hefty and direct penalty on the very people struggling to pay for insurance. Furthermore, a mandate does nothing for the unemployed, self-employed or early retirees. This is particularly destructive in the current economic environment when hiring is stagnant and unemployment is climbing over 10 percent.

An employer mandate would do its worst to small business owners and employees. A 2009 NFIB study predicted that an employer mandate could destroy 1.6 million jobs (over five years), around one million of them in small firms.

Mandates lay especially heavy burdens on small firms, increasing their administrative loads and causing additional cash-flow problems, especially during their first five years. A mandate gives employers strong incentives to cut wages, replace full-time employees with part-time workers or machines, and/or turn to foreign outsourcing. By focusing on coverage and ignoring cost, current reform efforts will leave thousands of small employers and their workers on the same road they were when this debate began -- with unsustainable premium increases, new taxes and no relief in sight.

Make no mistake, small business owners need and want reform. To that end, we support market reforms that will increase access to insurance plans and drive more competition and lower costs, not a bunch of new taxes and confusing rhetoric. That's the only way we'll get more Americans covered at lower costs. Small business owners and their workers and their families need the power to negotiate rates, and flexibility in designing plans that give employees the benefits that best suit their needs. An employer mandate gets us nowhere closer to those goals.

Supporting job-killing proposals like an employer mandate is simply not a solution small businesses can live with. It will not help to lower healthcare costs, and it should not be part of any federal reform plan. It's time for our elected leaders to wake up and realize that taxing small businesses with more mandates they can't afford is not "reform" -- it's a death sentence for jobs here in Wisconsin and across the country. Small business owners and their employees deserve better -- especially given how hard many of them are working in this economic climate just to keep their doors open.

-- Smith is director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses/Wisconsin.

Labels:


Comments: 54

At December 1, 2009 at 3:29 PM, Blogger Angie said...

There is something very wrong with this picture: small businesses are suffering and Washington wants to impose more mandates. Small businesses don’t need more mandates! They need freedom to choose what is best for the employee and the company. By creating a one-size-fits-all regulation, government is not only limiting small businesses’ freedom, but hindering their ability to grow, as well.

We are working hard at the NCPA on free market solutions for Americans www.ncpa.org

 
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