Small business organizations clash over new opinion poll on Affordable Care Act
Courtesy of the Small Business Majority
According to a new opinion poll released Thursday by the Small Business Majority, slightly over half of small business owners polled think the Affordable Care Act should remain in place with minor changes.
The poll results clash with the stance of the National Federation of Independent Business, which is challenging the Affordable Care Act and says that the overwhelming majority of small business owners are against the healthcare reform.
The lawsuit challenges Congress' power to require every American to purchase health insurance — as mandated by the Affordable Care Act — which as passed as an initiative by President Barack Obama in 2010. The Supreme Court heard a six-hour, three-day oral argument on the issue in March and is expected to hand down its decision at the end of June.
The Small Business Majority’s poll surveyed 800 small business owners in eight states: Michigan, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Missouri, Louisiana, New York and Illinois.
The poll found that 50 percent of small business owners want the Affordable Care Act to remain with minor changes, 16 percent would like to see a major change to the act and 34 percent want to see the healthcare law overturned.
By the end of the survey - which included many questions with specific information as to what the Affordable Care Act provides to businesses - 56 percent of respondents wanted the act to remain with minor changes, 16 percent wanted major changes and 28 percent wanted to see it overturned.
Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor, said he’s in favor of the healthcare reform.
“We compete (with big box stores) by offering a good benefits package,” Hodesh said. “The Affordable Care Act really helped.”
The act allows businesses with fewer than 25 employees that provide health insurance to qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent to cover the cost of insurance — a rate that will increase to 50 percent in 2014.
With the savings his company has recouped through the tax credit, Hodesh said he’s been able to create a job for an unemployed worker.
Health insurance exchanges will begin in 2014 as a part of the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges will be marketplaces in each state where individuals and small businesses can compare policies and premiums, and buy insurance.
The insurance exchange that comes into effect in 2014 will help Hodesh continue to be competitive, he said.
“Too bad that this law has become a political hot potato,” Hodesh said. “It’s about people and employees. Their well-being should be the most important issue.”
Rhett Buttle, government affairs director for Small Business Majority, said opinion has been negatively swayed so far because there hasn’t been enough education on the specifics of the reform legislation.
“There’s been more heat than light shed on the law,” Buttle said. “Once people learn about provisions in the law, they like it more.”
The Small Business Majority does not have a membership out of principle so it can use a more scientific approach to survey small businesses on issues, Buttle said.
There are about 28 million small businesses in the U.S., Buttle said, and about half are not a member of an association.
The National Federation of Independent Business has about 10,000 paying members in Michigan and about 350,000 paying members nationwide.
Members are surveyed before the organization takes action on an issue — and after an overwhelming majority of them supported a move to overturn it, the NFIB took legal action, said Charles Owen, director for the Michigan chapter of the organization.
Owen accused the Small Business Majority of “push polling” small businesses to get the results it wanted — phrasing questions in a way that would elicit a positive response.
“Clearly this organization has crafted their poll to yield a result that goes against conventional wisdom,” Owen said.
Though the NFIB is leading the charge against the Affordable Care Act at the national level, Owen said the organization has been advocating for healthcare reform for a long time.
“We’ve never been able to accomplish our goals for reform,” Owen said. “The approach of this law does make things worse for small business.”
A pair of federal lawmakers have recently questioned NFIB’s political motives, stating that it's working on behalf of corporate donors and conservative political interests.
The NFIB is an “equal-opportunity, non-partisan organization” Owen said.
The Small Business Majority has also come under question by a national media outlet for its ties.
Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.