WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) questioned how the Affordable Care Act allows businesses to stay competitive and maintain their workforce while complying with mandates imposed by the law requiring businesses employing 50 or more full-time people employees to provide comprehensive healthcare coverage or face a fine.
"I'm hearing a lot from Arkansas businesses that are concerned with the employer healthcare mandate. How does a company with 75 employees compete with a company that has 49? Isn't there an incentive for a larger company to downsize or reduce employee hours?" Boozman asked Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), during her testimony today before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies.
Boozman expressed his concerns that this law will negatively impact employment.
In a letter to congressional members in February, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) wrote "the employer mandate will be devastating to small businesses and job creation. It is already hurting employees by forcing small business owners to reduce hours and cut jobs in order to sustain their businesses."
Sebelius said the law intends to make businesses more competitive similar to Massachusetts, which already has similar provisions in place and where more small businesses were offering options for health coverage.
However, Boozman highlighted an Associated Press article published today discussing efforts to cut state costs in Washington state that would move its part-time employees from the state to the federal exchange.
A recent report by the Society of Actuaries found that Arkansas can expect a 40 percent increase in private market healthcare premiums starting in January and Boozman questioned the dollar figures touted by the White House that indicate families will see healthcare savings.
"The President said the healthcare law would 'bring down premiums by $2,500 for the typical family.' What year can Arkansas families expect to see these savings?" Boozman asked.
To watch Secretary Sebelius's response to Senator Boozman's questions, then click here.