Two years after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)—also known as health care reform—was signed into law by President Obama, the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) is urging Congress to rewrite the law so that it does not hurt restaurant operators’ profits.
Rob Green, executive director of the NCCR, says the organization is trying to educate operators and legislators alike about how certain aspects of the law could cripple operators’ margins.
The primary concern for chain restaurants, Green says, is the PPACA’s requirement that large employers and their franchisees must provide health insurance at government-mandated levels for full-time workers beginning in 2014. He adds that the law’s definition of 30 hours a week as full-time work and its short waiting periods before new workers are eligible for coverage are harmful to chain restaurants.
“The reality is in 2014 there are significant and dramatic impacts in terms of how employers will have to comply,” Green says. “It’s really the definition of what a full-time employee is that hits hardest in both the restaurant and retail industries.”
As it is, the PPACA could wipe out restaurant profits and force operators to cut back on job opportunities in an effort to avoid the financial burden of the law, Green says.
“You’re going to see a dramatic shift from full-time work to part-time work, and you’re going to see a dramatic shift in hiring in terms of fewer positions in restaurants, particularly chain restaurants,” he says.
The NCCR has maintained conversations with the Obama Administration and other legislators to address its concerns, Green says. He says there are compromises to be made with health care reform, and the NCCR is pushing for Congress to replace PPACA with reform that lowers costs and makes it easier for employers to provide insurance to their employees.
“You want affordable insurance, you want to make sure the coverage is broad as it can be, but it shouldn’t be done on the backs of an industry that creates a staggering number of jobs on an annual basis,” he says.
“Our ultimate goal is to find a solution that changes the law to reflect the unique circumstances of chain restaurants in terms of the number of employees that are hired, how the industry is structured in terms of full-time and part-time workers, and the unique challenges of turnover within the industry.”
By Sam Oches