Congressman Ami Bera told a group of Folsom business leaders that the tax on healthcare providers under Obamacare should be delayed.
Bera said now is not the time to slap a tax that must be absorbed by small businesses — many of whom were surprised that the tax will be tacked on to their health insurance bills.
Chris Hodges, co-owner of Brothers Boats, hosted the meeting between Bera and business people. He just got a notice from his insurance company that his premiums may go up by as much as 4 percent.
“Per employee that will be about $500 tax per employee,” said Hodges, who has six employees.
He says he doesn’t know how he’ll handle the increase, but Bera says the choices for small businesses aren’t good. It may mean changing insurance carriers, forgoing raises, reducing medical benefits or delaying hiring or expansion.
Robert Flautt, the President and CEO of Folsom Lake Bank, is a small employer who also deals with small businesses. He says without knowing how much health insurance will fluctuate, businesses will delay hiring and expansion.
“If you don’t have the certainty of knowing where things are going, you just tend to just delay it … I think it does in fact hurt the economy,” said Flautt.
Bera, a Democrat, has reached across the aisle to Republicans in sponsoring a bill that would delay the tax for two years — giving businesses a chance to figure out the impact of the tax. He said it was unfair to penalize small businesses for doing the right thing by providing insurance to their workers.
He may have opposition from his own party, which just waged a bruising battle with Republicans in resisting any changes to Obama care. He also received plenty of help from congressional Democrats in his fight to win his seat last year over Republican incumbent Dan Lungren in a tight race.
“I’ve heard from enough small businesses owners, individuals and family embers that they are really worried about these rate increases. That’s why I’ll push back against the leadership if I have to,” said Bera.
Bera must also battle the clock. The tax takes effect on Jan. 1, and there are just a couple of weeks left in this session of Congress. The estimated $8 billion raised by the tax is not earmarked for any program, and Bera said the deficit will not be affected by not collecting the Obamacare tax.