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Opinion: ACA not a friend to small business

Politics shmolitics: The National Federation of Independent Business is interested in hard numbers and cold facts, even when the subject is as hot-button as the Affordable Care Act.

After a thorough review of the act and its numbers, the Nashville-based lobbying organization has come to a disappointing reality: “Health insurance rates for small businesses (are) not going down; (the) vast majority are expected to see an increase under Obamacare,” perhaps as much as a 40 percent increase, the federation’s Minnesota Director Mike Hickey said in a meeting Friday with the Duluth News Tribune Opinion page, during which he shared a document he wrote and prepared on the subject. Later Friday Hickey offered his and his organization’s views on the WDSE-TV show, “Almanac North.”

News reports tout that the rates for individual insurance plans in Minnesota are expected to be the lowest in the nation. But that’s only because of a federal reinsurance tax on every health-insurance policy, Hickey said; unbelievably, the tax subsidizes multimillion-dollar insurance companies.

 “That is just another major flaw in Obamacare that is receiving more attention as the new law is rolled out,” Hickey said. “Artificially low rates … are temporary for only three years due in part to the reinsurance subsidy in the individual market. … People in business need to focus on what’s going to happen to their small group policy. It’s likely going to go up.”

In addition, states’ health-insurance exchanges will provide little relief for small businesses, as many small-business owners had hoped or expected. That’s because to receive a full tax credit, companies have to be small, with 10 or fewer employees who make only an average of $25,000 a year.

 “These numbers are so low that it appears that it would only apply to companies with part-time employees, and most of them don’t offer health insurance anyway,” Hickey said. “Contrary to the positive headlines we read, many people are going to receive a negative experience under this new law.”

And others will receive a positive experience, of course, especially those now able to obtain coverage for the first time. In the six days since the rollout of the federal Affordable Care Act, we’ve been bombarded with opinions, both positive and negative. This was just one — but at least from a source without a political dog in the fight. — Duluth News Tribune