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Businesses won’t wait for elections before implementing health law

By Sam Baker
July 9, 2012
Source: thehilll.com/blogs/healthwatch

Most businesses waited for the Supreme Court before making plans to comply with President Obama’s healthcare law — but most aren’t waiting for November to see whether the law might be repealed.

A new survey from the consulting firm Mercer found that most businesses have not begun planning for requirements that will take effect in 2014, including the mandate requiring employers to provide health benefits to most workers.

Businesses said they were holding off on implementation until they knew whether the Supreme Court would strike down the healthcare law — the same approach many Republican governors have taken. But now that the court has upheld the law, only 16 percent of the employers in Mercer’s survey said they plan to wait for November and the prospect of legislative repeal.

Mercer surveyed 4,000 businesses immediately following the high court’s decision.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the country’s largest small-business organization, joined 26 state attorneys general in filing the legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Republicans consistently argue that the law will burden small employers and stifle new hiring.

But only 28 percent of the employers in Mercer’s survey said the new employer mandate will pose a “significant challenge.” The law requires many businesses to offer healthcare coverage or pay a penalty for all workers who buy coverage on their own, with help from the federal government.

“Employers with large part-time populations, such as retailers and healthcare organizations, are faced with the difficult choice of either increasing the number of employees eligible for coverage or changing their workforce strategy so that employees work fewer hours,” said David Rahill, president of Mercer’s Health and Benefits business.