Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Testimony from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to U.S. House of Reps. Committee on Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health, 4/14/15

This is an excerpt of the testimony of Scott Womack, President of Womack Restaurants, Inc. on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: 
... Our reality today under the ACA is very different than what was promised. Over the last four years, our insurance premiums have risen 60%. Our single coverage now costs $6,400 annually and family coverage costs $19,200 annually. However, we have also had to double our deductibles to $2,500 and raise the out-of-pocket limit by two thirds. 
While our insurance offering complies with the ACA as affordable, only 4% of our hourly staff have enrolled. As I sampled my fellow franchisees, I discovered that 3% to 4% enrollment is the norm across the industry. Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr. and Hardees), wrote in a January 13, 2015 Wall Street Journal op-ed that only 2% of his company’s 6900 employees had enrolled. 
We are required to offer the same benefit to all our staff. We have been paying a portion of our managers’ dependent coverage, but now we are unable to do so, due to the potential cost across the company. This is a big loss for our management and office staff. 
As you may be aware, my offering of coverage to employees in many cases makes them ineligible for ACA subsidies for their dependents.  
The reporting required is costly, complex and confusing. All employers have had to either create or buy new software as we have, or contract with a service to do so. As I write this, it is unclear whether the federal government can actually use the data in its systems. 
It is clear that the assumptions inherent to the ACA were wrong. Five years later, our costs have gone up significantly. The controls and mandates did not help. Hourly employees do not want to buy policies that they were not buying before, even at a generous price. When a single surgery can still leave them with several thousands of dollars in bills, they do not want to get in the game. And the result of expanding coverage to all of our staff is a reduced benefit to our managers and office staff. ...