Start over. That’s the message that the International Franchise Association (IFA) and its grass-roots members are telling Congress as it considers comprehensive health-care reform. And we are not alone in this call.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that while the president and his congressional allies search for a way to pass their proposed health-care plan, most voters remain opposed to it. Forty-two percent now favor the plan, while 53 percent are against it — findings that have remained relatively constant since just after Thanksgiving. The new figures include just 20 percent who strongly favor the plan and 41 percent who are strongly opposed.
The IFA continues to urge Congress to put aside the divisive debate over a comprehensive approach and focus instead on policies that make coverage more affordable and accessible to all Americans, particularly franchised small businesses.
Even in ideal economic times, imposing costly regulations and taxes on business is a bad idea. Congress should pursue ways to streamline and modernize health-insurance regulation rather than adding new costs to job creation and adding to the federal deficit.
The Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 57 percent of voters say the health-care reform plan now working its way through Congress will hurt the U.S. economy. Just 25 percent think the plan will help the economy. But only 7 percent say it will have no impact. (Twelve percent aren’t sure.)
Two out of three voters (66 percent) also believe the health-care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats is likely to increase the federal deficit — up six percentage points from late November. Ten percent say the plan is more likely to reduce the deficit, and 14 percent say it will have no impact on the deficit.
There are several provisions in the Senate bill that impact small businesses, including an increase in the Medicare payroll tax by $54 billion over 10 years. This increase will likely hit approximately one-third of small businesses across the country, which employ 30 million Americans. Since the provision is not indexed for inflation, the number of small businesses (filers) that will pay the tax will increase 53 percent over the first seven years it is in effect.
Payroll taxes are an especially burdensome tax because they tax the cost of labor. Regardless of whether a small business makes a profit or not, it is forced to pay this tax.
Congress should move forward with sensible policies that provide regulatory certainty to small-business owners to assure sustainable economic recovery and job creation.
Legislation currently being considered by the House of Representatives still contains an unacceptable mandate on employers to provide health insurance. Instead of mandates, IFA is urging Congress to work on legislation that will adopt the following consensus reforms:
- Tax credits for small businesses and the self-employed to help them afford the full cost of health-insurance plans;
- National or regional exchanges where small businesses can pool together to purchase insurance plans and achieve the benefits of choice and competition;
- Consumer-driven options such as health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts; and
- Real medical liability reform to end the out-of-control costs associated with unnecessary defensive medicine.
IFA members have a long history of advocating for changes that allow employers to provide health-care benefits to their employees and restrain ever-increasing health-insurance costs.
We agree with President Obama that successful health-care reform must reduce the long-term growth of health-care costs for businesses. However, we strongly disagree that the proposals that Congress is considering right now are the best way to meet the goal.
As financing becomes more available to displaced workers who want to get into business for themselves through franchising, more jobs will be created by the franchise sector, leading to a stronger economic recovery. I like to think of it as the American Dream at work. We hope Congress will start over on its health-care reform efforts and develop health-care proposals that lower costs and allow franchise businesses do what they do best — create jobs.
Ken Walker is chairman of the International Franchise Association. and chairman and CEO of Driven Brands.