Farmers and other small business owners are concerned about the impact mandates and new taxes contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would have on them.“Of particular concern to farmers are provisions in the law that increase expenses through mandated insurance coverage for individuals and employees, as well as provisions that impose new taxes like the health insurance tax,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Director of National Legislative Programs Mitt Walker.On the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that deemed most of the law constitutional, members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted July 11 to repeal the federal health care overhaul, dubbed “ObamaCare.”The House has voted more than 30 times to scrap or defund the law since the president signed it in March 2010. Democrats predict the latest repeal bill has little chance of passage in the Senate, where they control the majority of votes.The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) supports the repeal approved by the House.
Walker said increases in cost of health insurance because of mandated benefits, higher Medicare payroll taxes and restrictions on Health Savings Accounts, are among farmers’ and small business leaders’ greatest concerns.“Those cost increases will divert resources away from business growth and expansion to the detriment of farmers and the production of food, fiber and fuel,” Walker said.AFBF officials say health insurance reform is essential, but it must also be workable, sustainable and balanced against the overall cost of doing business.AFBF urged Congress “to pursue health insurance reform legislation that provides for increased competition and choice, preserves a patient’s ability to keep his or her health plan, reforms the medical liability system to reduce unnecessary and wasteful health care spending, protects the doctor-patient relationship, expands incentives to encourage personal responsibility for health care coverage costs and eliminates duplicative government programs.All House Republicans voted in favor of the repeal measure.
The recent Supreme Court ruling did determine that the controversial penalty on those who do not buy insurance technically qualifies as a tax and not a penalty, as the Obama administration had claimed.“Farm Bureau stands ready to work with Congress to develop common-sense, market-based solutions that improve health care delivery and reduce health care costs for our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” AFBF officials said in the letter to congressional leaders last month. “Only a bipartisan process that engages those who provide for their own health insurance can produce the variety of widely supported solutions needed to reduce health care costs, and increase the number of Americans with access to health care coverage.”