Letter: Federal Health Insurance Tax Harmful to Employers

The federal Health Insurance Tax is an aspect of the Affordable Care Act that poses a threat to businesses across the country. The following letter of concern from Caryl Auslander, the Indiana Chamber’s vice president of federal affairs, was sent to Sen. Joe Donnelly and explains the Chamber’s position on the issue.

Senator Donnelly,

As Hoosiers, we are proud that our state has shown strong and sustained economic growth ever since the nationwide recession in 2009. It is our concern that the Federal government is hurting, rather than helping, by enacting policies that harm the employer community, specifically small businesses. In particular, we are deeply concerned by the Health Insurance Tax (or “HIT”) that is embedded in the Affordable Care Act.

This provision ensures that those individuals and businesses that have to turn to private insurance companies for coverage are stuck with a disproportionate share of the costs of the ACA. While the original intent of the HIT was supposed to be paid by the insurance companies, in reality the companies really act only as tax-collecting proxies for the Federal government.

When a consumer cannot avoid purchasing a good or service, they have little or no power to resist price increases imposed by suppliers. And when all of the suppliers are charged the same tax, they all have the same incentive to pass it along to their consumers. Thus the HIT forms a hidden tax on health insurance consumers: The families and small businesses who can’t afford to self-insure.

By some estimates, the HIT will cost more than $500 per family every year. A tax burden like that can place real hardship on a middle-class family, push poor families straight into insolvency, and keep small businesses from being able to hire new workers, reinvest in their company or provide other services to consumers. In a small firm with 80 employees, the hidden HIT alone could cost more than $40,000 a year — well over the state’s per-capita income.

The HIT is a hidden and regressive tax, and bipartisan agreement has been enough thus far to delay its full implementation. But middle-class Hoosiers and small business owners here cannot afford the continued uncertainty. On behalf of 24,000 Chamber members and customers across the state of Indiana, it is our request that you place the permanent elimination of the Health Insurance Tax at the top of your agenda. Its unconditional repeal would be a victory for transparency, good government, and economic opportunity for all.

Thank you for your leadership on this issue and for defending the people of Indiana.

Sincerely,

Caryl Auslander
Vice President, Federal Affairs

Chamber Supports Amendment to RFRA Law

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar reacts to the proposed clarification to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA):

“Our state has suffered tremendously the past week. It was absolutely essential to clarify and affirm that Indiana’s RFRA law does not permit discrimination against any person or group of people. The legislative amendment spells out that Indiana will not permit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s what businesses and individuals from around the state, country and world needed to hear.

“We believe this effort begins to help re-establish Indiana’s identity as a welcoming place and will go a long way toward reversing the tide of negative sentiments that has threatened our state’s economy.

“We encourage the General Assembly to pass this legislation in a bipartisan fashion today to show the nation that Indiana is united in sending the message that our state is a hospitable one which does not discriminate.”​

Indiana Chamber Earns National Honors at ASCP Event in Oklahoma

ascp awardsThe Indiana Chamber earned the prestigious President’s Award for overall excellence at the recent Association of State Chamber Professionals (ASCP) meeting in Oklahoma City. ASCP is comprised of membership and marketing professionals from state chambers of commerce throughout the country. Its annual meeting is in conjunction with a gathering of the Council of State Chambers (presidents and CEOs of the same organizations).

The Indiana Chamber competed against 11 other states in the large Chamber category. In addition to the top honor, three second-place membership awards were also earned: highest market share, highest non-dues growth and highest retention in dollars. None of the 22 states competing in two categories won more than the Indiana Chamber’s four awards.

Chamber membership director Brock Hesler accepted the awards on behalf of the entire staff.

Sen. Coats Hosting Job Fair in Lafayette

Sen. Dan Coats is hosting the 2012 Hoosier Job Fair on May 30 in Lafayette. There are currently 70 businesses already signed up to participate from all across Indiana, offering over 2,500 jobs. This job fair will be advertised throughout the state and organizers expect job-seekers from across Indiana (as well as graduating students from Purdue University) to be in attendance. It is a FREE event for participating businesses and job-seekers alike.  If your business would like to participate, please call (317) 554-0750 or visit the web site at www.coats.senate.gov/jobfair.  Below is more information about this event.
 

  • WHEN: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
  • TIME: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • WHERE: Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds, West Pavilion (1401 Teal Road, Lafayette)
  • COST: FREE
  • Businesses can sign up by calling (317) 554-0750, emailing [email protected] or logging onto our website at www.coats.senate.gov/jobfair.
  • PARTNERS: Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis, State Senator Brandt Hershman, State Senator Ron Alting , the Greater Lafayette Commerce, Lafayette WorkOne and the Tippecanoe County Commissioners

Small Business Owners Send Clear Message in Poll

Small business owners are confident, but economic growth is not following due to too many regulations and concerns about energy prices. Those are among the results in the latest U.S. Chamber small business survey. More than eight in 10 respondents want Washington to "get out of the way."

Concerns about regulations and energy prices continue to impede growth for small businesses, according to a recent poll commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive between March 27 and April 2, 2012, found that while small business confidence grew in the first quarter of 2012, small businesses continue to lose employees. 30% of small businesses reported laying off employees in the last year.

“This survey confirms that slow gains in economic growth are being undermined by uncertainty over rising gas prices, an onslaught of pending regulations, and stalled pro-growth bills in Congress,”  said Dr. Martin Regalia, the Chamber’s chief economist. “To deliver long-term confidence to small businesses, Washington should act to provide certainty and enact regulatory reform that will boost their ability to grow.”

The poll of 1,339 small business executives found that eight out of ten of small business owners cite higher energy prices as an immediate threat to the success of their business. Concern about gas prices has more than doubled in the last three months, increasing from 10% to 24%. The majority of small businesses (78%) do not think the administration is doing enough to keep prices low, increase domestic sources of energy, or support American job creation. Additionally, three out of four (73%) say the new health care law is an obstacle to hiring new employees.

Overall small businesses see Washington as the problem instead of the solution, with 81% asking Washington to get out of the way and 92% believing the business community is the best entity to lead the economic recovery.

Almost all small business owners (97%) say it is important to vote for a candidate who is a strong supporter of free enterprise; 84% say it is very important. Only 9% of small business owners approve of the job the Democratic Senate Majority is doing on the economy; 87% disapprove. The House Republican majority’s approval rating on handling the economy has increased from 40% approval in January to 46% in April.

“Small business owners are increasingly demanding accountability from members of Congress on how they vote on the issues that impact their operations,” said the Chamber’s Senior Vice President and National Political Director Rob Engstrom. “We’re seeing small businesses unable to hire, or worse, forced to let employees go because of the Senate’s refusal to take up job-creating measures like domestic energy exploration and regulatory reform.”

The survey defined a small business as a company with fewer than 500 employees and annual revenues of less than $25 million.  To read a complete copy of the Q1 Small Business Outlook Survey, please visit: http://www.uschambersmallbusinessnation.com/community/small-business-outlook-survey—march-2012

Why We Endorsed Sen. Lugar Today

We announced our endorsement of six-term incumbent Richard Lugar for the U.S. Senate today. The endorsement was made by the Indiana Chamber Congressional Action Committee, the federal political action committee of the Indiana Chamber.

"Senator Lugar has compiled a most impressive pro-economy, pro-jobs voting record throughout his years of service," said Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. "His focus on helping grow Indiana businesses and putting Hoosiers back to work is exactly what we need in Washington."

Lugar has been a long-time leader on many energy, national security, foreign policy and agricultural issues, among others. His effort to overcome bureaucratic obstacles and make the Keystone XL pipeline a reality – and create jobs in Indiana and throughout the country – is just one current example of his continued leadership.

"In a time when congressional approval levels are at record lows and partisanship is all too common," Brinegar adds, "Sen. Lugar should be applauded for his ability to reach across the aisle and work with members of both parties. We believe Hoosiers strongly benefit from his expertise and experience."

Lugar, Three Reps Earn Enterprise Awards from U.S. Chamber

Sen. Richard Lugar and Reps. Steve Buyer, Dan Burton and Mike Pence were recently presented with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise award for their support of American businesses during the last session. Here is a list of the recipients. Lugar’s office reports:

Lugar scored a perfect 100 percent from the Chambers his votes against President Obama’s health care financial regulation legislation, in addition to his votes to extend Middle Class tax breaks.

The Chamber has given Lugar the award for his pro-jobs creating votes every year since Lugar began serving Indiana in the Senate in 1977. During that time Lugar has a cumulative voting score of 91 percent on hundreds of votes to promote economic development.

“The Chamber applauds Senator Lugar for supporting the private sector and job growth through these difficult times,” said Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “He has demonstrated great courage and we commend him.”

The Spirit of Enterprise Award “recognizes those lawmakers who have demonstrated leadership on important business issues” according to the Chamber.

Lugar has received additional pro-business and taxpayer awards including the Taxpayer Hero Award from the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, and the Watchdog of the Treasury. Lugar has consistently been named “Guardian of Small Business” by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) for a 100 percent voting record on behalf of America’s small-business owners during the 111th Congress. Lugar has been named a “Guardian of Small Business” 16 of the last 17 Congresses.

Right-to-Work Impact is BIG; Details to be Released

What is generally known about right-to-work?

  • Twenty-two states have said "No, we’re not going to allow paying union dues (or require becoming a union member) to be a condition of employment. Indiana is among the other 28
  • The 22 have experienced greater economic activity, population increases and income growth
  • Many companies and site selection experts refuse to consider non-RTW states for their business relocations and expansions

What will the Indiana Chamber be sharing at an 11 a.m. press conference on Monday (at our offices) about RTW and Indiana as the result of a new study and recent polling?

  • How much higher Hoosiers’ per capita income would be if a RTW law had been in place
  • How much the state would have benefited from increased tax revenues (hint: bye-bye budget shortfall)
  • What passing RTW in 2011 will mean for the next decade
  • How many Hoosier voters support the passage of RTW

More to come (including video) on Monday. The numbers are guaranteed to make everyone take notice. Or, if you’re already convinced that RTW needs full legislative consideration right now, contact your legislators.

Terre Haute: From Stagnation to Inspiration

Terre Haute, once labeled a "community of stagnation" by the media, has used that label as motivation to become a bright point in Indiana’s western corridor. Our Tom Schuman sat down with Rod Henry, president of the Terre Haute Chamber, to discuss what the community has done to earn the Indiana Chamber’s award as 2010 Community of the Year.

Also see this recent BizVoice article on Terre Haute’s achievements.

Wanting the ‘Wait’ to be Over

Indiana business owners and operators are saying it. The Indiana Chamber continues to weigh in on their behalf with the same message. It extends beyond our state to most of the rest of the nation.

It, and the message, is that uncertainty is threatening all businesss (particularly small companies) and that Washington has to get its act together.

Let’s try a different approach here, with a video parody that will hopefully drive the message home. The ‘Wait and See’ video is brief (just over two minutes) and makes its point in an entertaining manner. Watch it, share it with others (including your representatives in Washington and Indianapolis) and keep up the good fight.