WASHINGTON, D.C. – Three years after passage of the health care law, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing with small businesses and a former CBO Director on the implementation of the law and how small companies are doing with compliance. The witnesses testified that the uncertainty, cost, and complexity of the law is proving to be a barrier to economic growth.
Dr. Holtz-Eakin, former CBO Director: The ACA is very costly. It has about $24 billion in reported regulatory compliance costs. These are estimates that come from the administration itself. Eighty Million hours of paperwork time spent complying with those regulations, to give you some perspective – that’s 40,000 full time employees filling out paperwork for a year nonstop.
William J. Gouldin, Jr., President, Strange's Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers, Richmond,VA: I realize that this law would be the most disruptive instrument to the American workplace in my lifetime and no one seemed to know or care, right in the middle of worst recession, depression, since the great depression.
Louisa McQueeney, General Manager, CFO, Palm Beach Groves, Lantana, FL: It’s not addressing the cost, it’s not addressing the cost enough. And we have no control of the cost what so ever. I can go to a doctor’s office and, and I have asked, how much is a particular procedure and you get no answer, none.
Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC): It’s obvious, but what’s the affect on the employment status in the United States?
Dr. Holtz-Eakin: This is a negative. I don’t think there is any way around that. Whatever your other objectives might be, if you set out to enhance job creation and growth in the United States, you wouldn’t pass a bill with a trillion dollars in taxes, a large and unknown entitlement program, and this amount of regulation. That isn’t a good strategy.
Rep Chris Collins (R-NY): Do you have a comment on how the health insurance tax, $800 billion, might impact any and all health insurance policies?
Dr. Holtz-Eakin: I expect that tax to be fully passed forward to the premiums that people pay for their health insurance. No question about it.
Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO): "I just see a huge train wreck coming down," Baucus told Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius at a Wednesday hearing. "You and I have discussed this many times, and I don't see any results yet." Is the confusion, is the cost, one of the biggest obstacles that, where the government isn’t becoming a stepping stone but a stumbling block for American prosperity and job creation.
Dr. Holtz-Eakin: As I mentioned in my opening statement the cost is real, these are self-reported cost of the agencies, HHS in particular, reported by the administration. This law has 11—it’s in my written testimony—11 particular regulations that HHS has identified as having a significant economic impact on small business. That’s a very unusual number. This doesn’t happen very often. I think the scale of the cost are real. Can’t ignore that. The second thing is the uncertainty is enormous about what will and will not get done. I think Senator Baucus’ comments reflect whether the uncertainty about whether the exchanges will up and running on time. We’ve already seen the administration put off the so called S.H.O.P. provisions which were supposed to find options for small businesses. Just what will be there of the law is an open question.