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The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Four years ago, restaurant franchise owner Scott Womack testified before the House Ways and Means Committee about Obamacare’s many problems:
The goal of providing health insurance coverage is noble, but the restaurant industry can’t afford the steep fines and mandates loaded upon us by the health care bill. Paying the penalties will be devastating for most. The health care law does not include the kinds of solutions that would have made it easier and more affordable to offer health insurance.
Between then and now, Womack sold his IHOP franchises and bought some Popeyes restaurants in Kansas City. But as he told the House Ways and Means Committee, Obamacare remains a big problem for him and the rest of the restaurant industry:
Our reality today under the ACA is very different than what was promised. Over the last four years, our insurance premiums have risen 60%. Our single coverage now costs $6,400 annually and family coverage costs $19,200 annually. However, we have also had to double our deductibles to $2,500 and raise the out-of-pocket limit by two thirds.
While our insurance offering complies with the ACA as affordable, only 4% of our hourly staff have enrolled. As I sampled my fellow franchisees, I discovered that 3% to 4% enrollment is the norm across the industry. Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr. and Hardees), wrote in a January 13, 2015 Wall Street Journal op-ed that only 2% of his company’s 6900 employees had enrolled.
We are required to offer the same benefit to all our staff. We have been paying a portion of our managers’ dependent coverage, but now we are unable to do so, due to the potential cost across the company. This is a big loss for our management and office staff.
“It is clear to me that the law hasn’t delivered,” Womack concluded.
Congress should repeal the employer mandate, and lift this burden off business owners like Womack.