House Republicans and five Democrats cast a largely symbolic vote today to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Photo/Getty Images )

Op-ed: A year later, we’re worse off with the Affordable Care Act

An anniversary is often a joyous occasion, a time to commemorate and celebrate an important  milestone. For America’s families, businesses, employees, and consumers, however, March 23rd, the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), might not fit into the same category of bliss.

The vast majority of people in America believe that our health care system needs improvement, especially when it comes to access and affordability of care.  Yet, while the 2010 health care law began with good intentions, it quickly ventured off into negative territory.

In a difficult economy, and an otherwise uncertain spending and regulatory environment, ACA leaves small employers with a large paperwork burden, higher costs, and an even greater degree of uncertainty.

The news for these businesses is not good. Many employers have seen their premiums increase or plans disappear entirely. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has said that, in a recent study, one in eight employers reported that their health insurance providers had notified them that their plans would be terminated.  Another recent study by human resources consulting firm Adecco reveals that nearly a third of employers said they stopped hiring or cut their workforce because of the law.

Our sister organization, the American Action Forum, has research that shows that regulations contained in Obamacare cost private entities $24 billion, as well as millions of lost hours dealing with paperwork. These regulatory costs are placing significant pressure on small businesses, of which 2.3 million are Hispanic-owned enterprises.

Uncertainty about ACA, including when and how it will be implemented, pervades the small business community. As concern and confusion about the law’s impact on future insurance premium costs grows, so does the anxiety of small business owners about how to meet their payrolls and profit margins, hindering the creativity and innovation needed for growth and success.

Small businesses are suffering.  And our seniors are facing significant change as well.

One of the most alarming aspects of ACA is what it is does to Medicare.

The law contains $716 billion in cuts to the current Medicare program. Those cuts affect current enrollees’ choices in care, as well as their health providers’ plans. Instead of using this money to shore up the program and strengthen it for our seniors, Obamacare is slated to use the $716 billion to fund a large expansion of government-subsidized health insurance for everyone else.

Some of the Obamacare cuts, like those that slash the Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, will disproportionally affect Hispanics. Compared to the average Medicare beneficiary, Hispanics are twice as likely to enroll in Medicare Advantage.  In fact, a study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that 38 percent of Hispanics and 31 percent of African Americans on Medicare were enrolled in Medicare Advantage, compared to 27 percent of whites.

“Low income beneficiaries and minorities, especially Hispanics, will bear the brunt of the MA cuts,” according to a study by the Heritage Foundation. The study estimates that, “the MA cuts in [Obamacare] are projected to cause Hispanics to lose $2.3 billion in benefits. . . Almost 300,000 Hispanics…will lose access to MA.”

A lot has happened since Obamacare became the law of the land in March 2010. While some of its impact on our families, businesses, and economy have come into focus, others will not become clear until its full-scale implementation begins in 2014. That gives Congress and the president some time to work together to stop the effects of the law’s regulations and taxes. In the meantime, holding off on any anniversary cake and candles is just what the doctor ordered.

Jennifer Korn Bio Photo

Jennifer S. Korn is Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network. Previously, she served in President George W. Bush’s White House as Director of Hispanic Affairs.

%d bloggers like this: