John Allison is the retired chairman and CEO of BB&T, a Distinguished Professor of Practice at the Wake Forest University School of Business and a Job Creators Alliance member.
Small business owners and working families were not served well by yesterday's Supreme Court decision to uphold President Obama's Affordable Care Act as constitutional. Not only is the need for real reform of America's unwieldy healthcare system more urgent than ever, but also there are now far more concerns about the prospect for economic growth. By upholding the mandate as a tax, the court and this administration have ensured that taxes will go up for middle-class working families and small businesses everywhere—when they can least afford it.
Setting aside legal arguments and analysis, the ruling's fiscal impact is significant: Government spending will be $1.15 trillion higher over the next 10 years, and federal deficits will increase by $340 billion.
But more than that, the reality is that the Affordable Care Act is already making the cost of doing business much higher for small businesses. In my home state of North Carolina, the law is already causing healthcare costs to rise and fears of what full implementation might mean are contributing to a climate of uncertainty and stifling job creation nationwide.
As if the law's 2,700 pages weren't enough, the law will lead to tens of thousands more pages of new regulations. These new regulations, some of which have already started to come from the federal government and many which have yet to be written, will pummel small businesses that are already struggling under burdensome healthcare costs with additional requirements, taxes, and penalties. Even the so-called benefits are too complicated. All of these added costs mean, perhaps most importantly, that the Affordable Care Act will fundamentally restrict businesses' ability to hire workers, making our nation's unemployment crisis much worse than it already is.
The need for reform remains. Job Creators Alliance understands that the success of small businesses and job creation depends upon a sustainable, efficient healthcare system that benefits both employers and workers.
Several common-sense solutions include: injecting real competition in the health insurance industry by enabling the sale of health insurance across state lines, healthcare portability that would allow employees to take their health insurance with them from job to job, and innovative ideas like health savings accounts which encourage individuals to make more cautious choices concerning medical costs.
A market-based, patient-centered approach would go a long way to addressing the real issue in healthcare: increasing costs.
If elected leaders and policymakers are serious about fixing the nation's broken healthcare system, they cannot afford to sit back and do nothing. Robust economic growth is dependent on the welfare of its businesses and workers, for which an effective healthcare system is a must.