Government

Obamacare Hits Businesses With Insurance Hikes, Cancellations

While federal lawyers appeal Vinson ruling, NFIB reports premium increases up to 60 percent
By: Kenric Ward | Posted: April 6, 2011 3:55 AM
Judge Roger Vinson and Karen Harned

Judge Roger Vinson and Karen Harned of National Federation of Independent Business

A national business group fighting Obamacare remains hopeful that the law will be overturned, but says spiraling health insurance costs are inflicting fiscal pain in the meantime.

"What's killing them now are the direct mandates on insurers. We are seeing 30-60 percent increases in premiums now, and more cancellations," said Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business Small-Business Legal Center.

"Though the direct taxes on businesses aren't scheduled to take effect until 2014, insurers are already living in 2014 [anticipating higher costs]. This is having a very negative effect." She said the smallest insurance increases she's heard of were in the "10-20 percent range."

In an interview with Sunshine State News, Harned predicted that insurance costs will continue to soar as the Obama administration contests U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson's ruling declaring the health-care law unconstitutional.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed its long-awaited appeal in the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta last Friday, after Vinson directed government lawyers to proceed with the appeal or face an order immediately halting implementation of the law.

The administration contends that health care, unlike other transactions, is open to an individual mandate. The NFIB and 26 states, led by Florida, dispute that notion.

"We feel good about the case. We don't see a good answer to the individual mandate question," said Harned, who likened Obama's order to buy health to a government mandate to buy and eat broccoli.

"It's very disturbing they can't answer the broccoli question. And most disturbing: Where does it end for small business?" Harned asked.

With oral arguments set for June 8 at the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta, Harned says there's a "good chance" that the case will get to the U.S. Supreme Court in time for its next session that starts in October.

Meantime, Harned said her group and others will be totaling up the interim costs associated with Obamacare.

"Business needs to know what the final answer will be sooner rather than later," she said.

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Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or (772) 801-5341.


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