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OPINION

Majority of Small Business CFOs Call Obamacare ‘Fastest-Growing Threat’

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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One week before the Republican Party’s so-called “SEC Primary Day,” on which 12 states and more than 500 delegates will be up for grabs, presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) frantically campaigned in Nevada, emphasizing the importance of ending Obamacare.

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The Washington Post notes the focus on Obamacare, a program virtually all the Republican candidates have voiced strong opposition to throughout the campaign, marks a distinct shift in the way many of the remaining GOP primary contenders are attempting to sway voters. Rather than focusing on policies that are primarily of interest to the Republican conservative base, candidates are now campaigning on issues moderate party members, independents, entrepreneurs, and small business owners are most concerned with: fixing the economy and health care reform.

New surveys suggest the candidates may be making the right move. According to a poll conducted by LevelFunded Health, a company that offers small businesses “an alternative to traditional [health insurance] plans,” 64 percent of more than 1,500 chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed say “small group health insurance premiums are now the fastest-growing threat to their company's bottom line,” a change a majority of the CFOs claim is a result of policies imposed by Obamacare.

Sixty-nine percent of the respondents agreed the complexity of Obamacare regulations “as it pertains to their small group health insurance plans take their focus away from other financial areas of running the business.”

One reason businesses are spending so much time dealing with Obamacare regulations today is the 2015 tax year marks the first year many of the Affordable Care Act’s small business tax rules go into effect. The Associated Press (AP) reports new forms many small businesses must comply with are “labor-intensive” and costly:

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“Starting this year, businesses required to comply with the health care law must complete forms that detail the cost of their coverage and the names and Social Security numbers of employees and their dependents,” reports AP. “The government will use the information to determine whether a company provided coverage that was affordable under the law, or whether it must pay a penalty.

“Accountants have described the forms as labor-intensive because they require information from a number of sources, including payroll and health insurance records,” AP reports. “Many companies have had to hire workers or payroll services to complete the forms.”

In response to numerous requests from small businesses struggling to keep up with Internal Revenue Service filing requirements, the agency has agreed to push back some of its deadlines for small businesses to the end of June.

It’s not only small businesses that are struggling under the Affordable Care Act. CNBC reports there were 12 percent fewer plans offered during the 2016 Obamacare open-enrollment period compared to 2015, and average Bronze Plan premiums for most Americans rose by 11 percent. This helps to explain why a poll released in January by CBS News and The New York Times found 52 percent of Americans say they oppose Obamacare, while only 41 percent of respondents support it.

The ACA has greatly harmed small businesses and individual Americans alike. Although the specific aspects of Obamacare that created these problems differ from one another, the underlying cause is the same: centralized, bureaucratic control of an absolutely massive and complex market. The ACA’s primary goal is to provide affordable health insurance for all Americans and to increase access to quality health care services, but imposing these goals on the health care industry has been an incredible failure. Costs continue to grow, prices are higher than they have ever been, and millions of Americans have been forced out of health insurance plans they enjoyed.

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The only proven way to increase access to quality services – in any market – is to encourage innovation through the power of the free market. When individuals have the ability to make choices that work best for them and their families, the whole market benefits, and eventually competition brings costs down. Government reforms can help to encourage this process and improve access to quality care, but the Affordable Care Act does little to fix the nation’s health care crisis. In fact, at least in its earliest years, the program has only made many existing problems worse.

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