Mixed emotions: Small business owners, advocates respond to health-care ruling

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the vast majority of President Obama’s signature health-care law, ruling that the controversial individual mandate component is permissable under lawmakers’ taxing authority.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. provided the swing vote, joining the majority in upholding the law. The justices did alter the portion of the law reforming Medicaid, but in the most closely contested battle, they determined that Congress acted within its powers by requiring most Americans to carry health insurance.

Immediately following the annnouncement, small business groups, advocates and owners began weighing in on the decision — and there’s very little consensus among them. Here are some of the early responses.

Dan Danner, president and CEO, National Federation of Independent Business:

“Clearly this mandate has now become a tax on all Americans and a broken campaign promise from President Obama not to raise taxes. We are concerned about the precedent that this will set in Congress’ ability to mandate other aspects of our lives, but we will move forward from today to continue to fight, harder than ever, for real health-care reform for our membership.”

John Costin, owner of Veneer Services Unlimited, Kennebunk, Maine:

“This is a good day for small businesses across America. Small business owners knew we couldn’t afford to go back to the nightmare scenario that health care was for us before reform. The Supreme Court’s decision means we won’t have to. Instead, we can keep looking forward. Provisions of the Affordable Care Act – from rate review to the value for premiums rule to the guarantee that there’s somewhere to go for coverage even if you have a pre-existing condition – are already making a difference for small businesses, and there’s more to look forward to. Now that the court case is behind us, it's time to put politics aside and get down to implementing the law to maximize the benefits for small businesses.”

Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council:

“The individual mandate serves as a gateway to more coercion, where small business owners and individuals will be forced to purchase any number of goods or services that political elites deem in their ‘best interest.’ Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court undercuts freedom, which is essential to economic growth and entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is on the decline in the U.S., and we need policies that will encourage risk-taking and start-up activity. Intrusive government policies and punishing taxes, like the Affordable Care Act with its individual mandate, work against a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Todd McCracken, president and CEO, National Small Business Association

“NSBA was the first national small-business group to propose a broad reform of the health care system back in 2004. Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act fell far shy of much needed cost containment—something we hope Congress will take to heart as they move forward.

Kurt Summers, owner of Austin Generator Service in Austin, Texas:

“My belief that the health-care law and its associated taxes and costs would be struck down — at least in part — encouraged me to make plans for additional investments in new equipment and staff which I now am forced to reconsider. Our recent growth has been modest and manageable but extremely positive given the circumstances, and largely the result of careful business planning. And while we have seen a steady uptick in customers and in revenue in recent months, today’s health-care ruling will cause many of us as small business owners to rethink our future. ”

Steve Millard, president and executive director, Council of Smaller Enterprises

“COSE understands the challenges small businesses face accessing insurance. The law works to address this issue, which is a step forward. However, true progress can only be made if we address the cost of care and the resulting cost of health insurance to small businesses and their employees. Now that we have a clearer direction, COSE looks forward to continuing its advocacy efforts and acting as a voice and resource for small business.”

Makini Howell, owner of Plum Bistro in Seattle, Washington:

“I hope the Supreme Court’s ruling today upholding the Affordable Care Act settles the political debate about health care. In my business, I feel like I’ve now got greater certainty that I can count on the law’s health care tax credits and start getting ready for enrolling in the exchange in 2014. In the months ahead, I know other small businesses will benefit from hearing simple practical information about how to take advantage of all the things health care reform has to offer them, rather than trying to decipher a continual barrage of political white noise.”

Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale in Seattle, Washington:

“The Affordable Care Act is already taking critical steps to lower costs and bring affordable, good quality health coverage within reach for small businesses. The Court’s decision reaffirms what small business owners like me have been saying all along: we need to keep building on the ACA, not repeal it. I may be a risk taker, but that’s a risk I can’t afford to take. I can’t afford to go back to the broken health insurance marketplace that gave us rate hikes of 20, 30, and 40 percent a year.”

Steve Caldiera, president & CEO, International Franchise Association:

“We are deeply disappointed by the High Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, which places undue burdens on the franchise small business community. While it may have been ruled constitutional, the law is unworkable, unaffordable and wrong for our country's small business owners who continue to struggle in a still sluggish economic climate. By upholding the law, 3.2 million jobs at franchise businesses continue to be put at risk due to the employer mandate provision, thereby discouraging and disincentivizing the creation of new job and business expansion.”

Share your take: Should small business owners celebrate or mourn the health-care ruling? How will the decision directly impact your company? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Follow J.D. Harrison and On Small Business on Twitter.

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he manages the Post's On Small Business blog.
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