Business, union leaders react to ruling
By Burton Speakman
Local business representatives are nervous about what the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act will do to already rising health care costs.
But union leaders are embracing the potential for more working poor to receive health coverage.
Smaller employers as well as larger companies will have to take a serious look at finances, said Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Co.
In some cases, companies are going to have to make the economic decision to cut the hours of part-time workers, no longer employ them or simply pay the fine and the government- mandated contribution for their health care, he said.
The typical cost to provide health insurance to an employee for a year is $10,000, Bell said.
Cafaro is hoping not to have to make any changes to its coverage, Bell said, but added the company has been considering what it might have to do since the Affordable Care Act passed.
The act will increase costs of health care for both employers and employees, said Brian Benyo, president and co-owner of Brilex Industries.
Health care costs already have been increasing at three to four times the rate of inflation, he said.
“Private industry is going to have to pay for this. Someone has to pay for it, and it’s not going to be the federal government,” Benyo said. Anything that increases costs without increasing productivity hurts manufacturing companies already working hard to compete internationally, he said.
“For lower-wage jobs, this will encourage companies to move them overseas where they don’t have this kind of regulation,” Benyo said. Dave Green, president of UAW Local 1714 has seen a different reaction to the bill: excitement.
“All our union members have insurance. We negotiate for that, but we fight for things like health care and minimum wage because its the right thing to do for working people,” Green said.
This decision is a huge boost for the president, he said, adding the Supreme Court made the right decision.
The ruling is a good thing for the working poor who have not had the opportunity to get affordable health insurance, said William Padisak, president of Trumbull Mahoning County AFL-CIO.
“I see this as a historic moment, as historic as when the segregation decisions were made. We’re at a moment in history,” Padisak said.
This decision puts pressure on the states to begin implementing part of the health care bill.
“We’re the only industrialized country to not offer some type of health care to its citizens,” Padisak said.
Small businesses in this area stand to benefit from the law being upheld because of the tax credits to help cover insurance costs, said Dorothy Boggio, human-resources manager for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
“It’s going to take a tremendous load off these companies either in costs to insure their employees or in money to help them find insurance,” she said.
The decision upholding the act should not be the negative thing that some are calling it, Boggio said.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce believes the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in its entirety allows business to focus on making the required reforms.
“The legal challenges mounted against the ACA led to much uncertainty and a substantial administrative burden on businesses,” said Keith Lake, managing director of government affairs for the Ohio Chamber. “Today’s decision establishes the constitutional validity of the law and will allow employers to plan for the realities of how to comply with it. But the sheer complexity of the ACA — not to mention the politics surrounding it, which the court’s decision certainly doesn’t halt — means it may still be many more months before employers have the clarity and certainty they really require.”