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Mark Caserta: Obamacare to remain the law of the land

Nov. 15, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

It appears efforts to thwart President Obama's health care reform law were stifled by last week's presidential election, and Obamacare has indeed become "the law of the land."

So where do we go from here?

While the details of the Affordable Care Act have been gradually emerging, many people still don't have a clear understanding of its implications.

What many hoped was going to be "free" government-provided health insurance won't be free at all.

In fact, the middle-class, for whom Obama "rattled his saber" throughout his campaign, will shoulder much of the burden by paying more for goods and services and finding fewer jobs.

With Obamacare requiring business owners to provide insurance for their employees, do you suppose employers will be content to absorb the costs and make less profit?

The additional costs will certainly be passed along to the consumer.

Immediately after Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in the presidential election, companies all over the United States began implementing "Plan B" in preparation for the financial impact of Obamacare.

Last week an Applebee's franchisee who operates 40 New York-area restaurants told Fox Business Network that a hiring freeze is probably in the works.

"We've calculated it will (cost) some millions of dollars across our system." Zane Tankel, chairman and CEO of Apple-Metro said. "So what does that say -- that says we won't build more restaurants. We won't hire more people."

The day after the election, Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter said the president's health care reform law would increase his business costs and possibly result in employee's hours being cut. He added the consumer would incur the additional costs of doing business.

"That's what you do, is pass on costs," Schnatter said in comments to a group of college students. "Unfortunately, I don't think people know what they're going to pay for this."

Employers who choose not to provide their employees insurance will have to pay a substantial financial penalty if they employ more than 50 employees.

So if you're a business owner with thin margins and have the option of paying the additional cost for insurance or paying a financial penalty if you exceed 50 employees, what would you do?

It's simple. You either charge more for your services, cut payroll or lock the doors!

Now, if you're an individual and not insured through your employer or out of pocket, you will be forced to purchase insurance regardless of your circumstances or pay a fine. You could even face jail time.

And since the Supreme Court ruled Obamacare constitutional only as a "tax" imposed by the government, the Internal Revenue Service will manage the collections. And as with any unpaid tax, they will have the power to attach your property in lieu of any "unpaid taxes."

While the bulk of the Affordable Care Act was intentionally planned to take effect after the election, this isn't new news. Some simply chose to ignore the facts.

But I assure you, reality for many Americans is right around the corner.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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