Donald Trump’s first action as president was to take a step toward making good on one of his cardinal campaign promises, to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
With his executive order to “ease the burden of Obamacare,” Trump left a lot of unanswered questions as to what they meant, and what he would do for those of us that aren’t burdened by the health care law at all. The small-business community needs specifics, our livelihood is in the balance.
As a small-business owner, I closely followed the evolution of the Affordable Care Act and studied the implications it could have on my bottom line. As an executive committee member of Main Street Alliance, a national network of small-business owners, I worked to ensure that my fellow members were armed with that information and that the voices of Main Street business owners were heard as the necessity and potential impact of the ACA were debated. In the end, we saw the law as a win for small businesses, one that put us in a position to make sure our employees were covered and that we had coverage for ourselves, too.
Over the next six years, our conclusion that the ACA would work for Main Street proved true. The ACA put my business in the best position to provide my employees with health coverage at rates we can afford. Insurance premiums historically reserved for large employers with large employee group plans now are made available to small businesses like mine. As a result, we can offer our employees the same benefits that attract the talent typically reserved for larger companies, leveling the playing field for businesses of all sizes.
So, we’re concerned with Trump’s promise to repeal the ACA and his vague actions during his first day in office. While we wait for clarity, we are left dealing with the uncertainty of whether our staff will continue to get coverage from the marketplace or if we need to research and purchase private insurance policies with costs to be determined. When recruiting and hiring new employees, we need to know what coverage options we can offer and how our offerings stack up to our competitors. This wait-to-see approach simply won’t cut it.
The ambiguity and uncertainty generated by Trump’s half-baked campaign promises don’t only put small- business owners’ ability to create jobs and expand into question, it leaves the market in flux and threatens our entire economy. The health care industry accounts for 17 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product, and widespread uncertainty in the sector could cripple economic growth. Main Street small-business owners and nearly one fifth of our country’s economy hang in the balance.
Experts have boiled it down: Trump either can allow nearly 30 million consumers to lose their health coverage, or he and Congress can work to improve Obamacare. To provide market certainty, President Trump and the GOP leadership in Congress, Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst included, must make clear their plan for the millions covered under the ACA. Any plan to repair the health care law must maintain the tax breaks, subsidies, and provisions that make the ACA work for small businesses like mine.
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• ReShonda Young owns Popcorn Heaven in Waterloo and is an executive committee member of the Main Street Alliance