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In East Brunswick, Small Employers Wonder About ACA Impact on Them

9-30-13

By David Cruz
NJ Today

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new era in American health care, and the one thing that seems certain is that there’s still more confusion than clarity, particularly among the small business people at a workshop hosted by Congressman Rush Holt’s office this morning, where there was a lot of confusion.

“Well, there is,” said Dennis Gonzalez, the deputy regional director for the Department of Health and Human Services. “We can’t deny that. However, the important thing is that tomorrow is the first day of enrollment.”

For individuals, yes. But for small business people — most not required to cover their workers because they have less than 50 but eager to do so — they were looking for their answers, unsure of how the Affordable Care Act will affect their bottom lines. For them, John Sarno, of the Employers Association of New Jersey, says the ACA , is a good thing.

“They’ll be able to get the same kind of care that employees get when they’re covered by an employer plan and presumably that will result in higher productivity, less sick days and all the benefits of having a health care plan with the smaller employer not having to pay for it,” said Sarno.

The employers who want to cover their workers seemed unconvinced.

“They’re just complicating options that you have,” said Etty Galamidi who owns Allegra Communications in Lawrenceville, “but the first year, they’re limited options, so I’m not sure everyone is really ready for this Jan. 1 start.”

Brian Pansari, who owns a La Bombonniere Bakery, came in with questions and left with few answers. “Some questions answered,” he said, “a couple of more questions that are new than I have now, and a couple of things not quite answered yet.”

Polls show that Americans are split on whether the Affordable Care Act will affect them. Most expect to be unaffected, with almost as many saying the new law will affect them negatively. But very few — no more than 15 percent — think the major legislative accomplishment of the Obama administration will make their lives any better.