Steve Zelnak is a member of the Job Creators Alliance, a nonprofit committed to the defense of the free enterprise system, the chairman of the Board of Directors and former CEO of Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., and chairman and majority owner of ZP Enterprises.
A lot of attention in Washington and around the country has been focused on the Supreme Court as it has considered the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—or, Obamacare. Business owners have also been watching closely, if not nervously, because of the sheer implications that the law has on their ability to keep their doors open during these difficult economic times.
Any business owner can tell you that the rising cost of healthcare has been one of their top concerns for years—but what has them really worried is the increased layers of cost, regulation, and uncertainty stemming from Obamacare. Instead of making the problem of healthcare costs better, it makes it much worse.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare will reduce the labor force by 800,000 over the next decade and estimates that the cost to American businesses due to inability or failure to comply will be $52 billion. The last thing our economy needs is even more hurdles to job creation, yet that is precisely what the healthcare law represents.
For a small-to-medium sized business, the prospect of having to comb through the 2,700 pages of Obamacare to figure out which of the $525 billion in taxes, or $26 billion in penalties, or hundreds of new regulations and mandates apply to them is daunting, to say the least. Is it any surprise that healthcare costs have risen already? Fifty-seven percent of employers nationwide say that healthcare costs have risen due to Obamacare, and in my home state of North Carolina, premium costs are projected to increase by 5.2 percent over last year's costs.
The problem with Obamacare isn't the purported purpose of the law—to reform our nation's health insurance system—the problem is the way in which the law attempts to achieve its goal: bigger government, more bureaucracy, and a top-down approach that is Washington-centered. What the Job Creators Alliance believes is that there are consumer-centered solutions that could bring free-market dynamics to bear in containing healthcare and insurance costs.
Things like expanding health savings accounts, making health insurance portable, or allowing health insurance to be bought across state lines are just a few commonsense, modern reforms that would be important steps in the right direction.
Regardless of what the Supreme Court ultimately decides, the need for real reform remains and the Job Creators Alliance will continue to advocate for an approach that does not dampen free enterprise or disincentivize economic growth.