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Small business group says court upheld a 'bait-and-switch' in health care law

Staff Report
June 28. 2012 3:08PM

WASHINGTON -- The National Federation of Independent Business, which joined 26 states in challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, said Thursday the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a 'bait-and-switch' in the law.

'Obviously, we're incredibly disappointed in the outcome,' said NFIB chief executive officer Dan Danner on a conference call. 'We still believe that the individual mandate was a step too far into people's individual lives and even though it was stricken down under the Commerce Clause, the fact that now we keep everything alive by calling it a tax, we're still very disappointed in.'

Danner said the Affordable Care Act 'doesn't work for small businesses. The costs keep going up and we believe that the remaining bill will make their costs worse, not better.'

Danner said the NFIB 'will continue to push to repeal the health care bill and start over with what we think are better reforms that help small business and lower their costs.'

Karen Harned, executive director of the NFIB's Small Business Legal Center, said, that while the court said Congress does not have unlimited power under the Commerce Clause, 'it did endorse a bait-and-switch, where Congress can pass a tax, enact a tax and not call it a tax and that's OK under the taxing power of the United States.

'I feel comfortable that we put on the best case we could and am just disappointed that the Supreme Court didn't agree with us in the end,' said Harned.

'For young people,' said Danner, 'this is a big new tax on you. The law is going to become less popular not more.'

Danner said NFIB agrees with the ACA provision allowing young people to stay on their parents' plans until they are 26, but, he said, 'When you turn 27, all of a sudden you're going to have a potentially significant new tax.'

Also, he said, 'Now that this is a tax, can it be raised at any time?' And, he asked, 'Could the money from this be used for a somewhat different purpose, like some of the state Medicaid?

'There are a lot of questions going forward about this new tax,' Danner said. 'We're very worried about taking away FSAs (Flex Spending Accounts) and HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) which were important and valuable alternatives to have.'

'There are a lot of things we're still worried about that will take away choices and add to costs,' he said .

'This is about at the end of the day, how much control government has over all of our lives,' said Harned.

'We're going to look at legislative opportunities,' said Danner. 'Our preference would be to repeal the law and start over, but short of that, are there opportunities short of full repeal to address some of the things that we think hit small businesses the most.'

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