As the Affordable Care Act begins to roll out across the country, Republican politicians and pundits would have you believe that the free market is on the verge of collapse. They point to big companies like Whole Foods and Olive Garden, which are slashing workers’ hours to avoid offering healthcare to their employees, claiming it’s a sign that Obamacare is bad for business. Over the summer, some went so far as to claim 75% of employers would be forced to fire workers and cut hours to stay afloat.
Try telling that to Disney, Starbucks, Costco and countless small business owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers across the country. Yesterday Walt Disney Co. announced it’s actually decided to offer better coverage to its employees now that the ACA has taken effect, offering full-time positions to 427 part-time employees at its theme park in Florida so they can qualify for health benefits.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz isn’t making the same kind of drastic changes as Disney — in fact, he has no plans to make any changes to his company’s health care policies under the ACA at all, even though it will raise his cost of doing business. In an interview with CNN, he explained, “I don’t believe that … the health care law should be a reason or a motivation to cut benefits for either the employee or spouses. An investment in your people is an investment in shareholder value.”
Costco’s CEO, Jim Sinegal, has long been a vocal supporter of the Democrats and President Obama. He’s also been offering his employees competitive health benefits to all employees, both full- and part-time, for years — even during the recession. He’s even gone so far as to argue that the Democrats are the more business-friendly party in Congress.
The simple truth is this: big businesses that are claiming Obamacare is hurting their bottom line are flat-out lying — sometimes because their owners are politically opposed to President Obama, but more frequently just because it’s a convenient excuse to cut corners. A recent article in USA Today explains the real reasons why so many companies are using the Affordable Care Act as a convenient scapegoat, and it’s interesting reading. It turns out that many of these companies will make references to Obamacare when announcing the healthcare changes they’re making, but will deny a connection when explicitly asked for comment by reporters.
In fact, despite Republican predictions that the ACA will force American companies to stop hiring full-time workers, the opposite is true. A recent survey of chief financial officers across the United States found that the number of full-time employees is actually set to increase by 1.8% over the next 12 months. While healthcare costs might be increasing for big businesses soon, it’s clearly not going to break the bank.
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