Published on: June 29, 2012
The US Supreme Court, in a decision that seemed largely unexpected, issues a 5-4 ruling yesterday that left President Barack Obama's centerpiece legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), almost completely intact, including the individual mandate requiring people who can afford it to have health insurance.
Numerous retail associations quickly weighed in on the decision.
• The Food Marketing Institute (FMI):
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling upholds PPACA’s multitude of reporting requirements and mandates for food retailers and wholesalers to offer health coverage to their employees. As employers of millions of full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, uncertainty still remains for food retailers in every community in this country.
“As employers, food retailers will need to follow government agencies’ yet-to-be-released criteria for determining which employees are required to be offered health coverage under PPACA and whether that employer-offered coverage, as required under the new law, is deemed ‘affordable’ and passes the ‘minimal value’ requirements in the statute. Within the coming 18 months, federal agencies must issue new regulations covering all of these issues and more, and each company across the industry will be forced to decide how best to adjust its health coverage and work schedules, to comply with the new law – or whether to simply withdraw from offering coverage and pay any penalties that may be required.
“In addition, there are two provisions in PPACA that specifically impact the grocery industry: a restaurant menu labeling requirement that was incorporated into the legislation just prior to its passage followed by a proposed rule from FDA that could expand to supermarkets the regulations intended for restaurants; and a requirement that customers present a doctor’s prescription before being allowed to use an FSA debit card to purchase over-the-counter medicines at their local food stores, while continuing to allow the use of FSA debit cards to purchase eligible items that are not medicines.
“We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to address these concerns as soon as possible.”
• The National Grocers Association (NGA):
"Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the individual mandate, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, makes the future more certain for employers who must now continue to prepare for 2014 when the majority of the law's provisions will take effect.
"With this decision, N.G.A. will redouble its efforts to minimize the impact and burdens on independent retail grocers by continuing to work closely with fellow members of the Employers for Flexibility in Healthcare Coalition to educate the administration on the important need for maximum flexibility in regulatory requirements.
"N.G.A. will also continue to work closely with Congress to address key provisions and requirements of the law that are most troublesome to N.G.A., such as the 30 hour threshold for full-time employees, the need for maximum flexibility when determining an employee's status as full or part-time and the chain restaurant menu labeling provision that Congress did not intend for grocery stores. Additionally, N.G.A. will continue to educate our members on how to implement and comply with the law, which can be a challenge for even the most sophisticated operations.
"N.G.A. supports healthcare reform that increases competition in the marketplace and reduces costs on employers making it easier to provide benefits to employees and their families. N.G.A. will continue to work closely with Congress and the administration to push for regulations and support legislation that supports this goal while addressing the unique needs of independent retail grocers and wholesalers and their employees."
• The National Retail Federation (NRF):
“As the voice of retailers of all types and sizes, we’re disappointed by today’s ruling. The Court missed an opportunity to redress the many shortcomings of the law.
“As it stands, the law wrongly focuses more on penalizing employers and the private sector than reducing health costs. For these reasons, NRF has been a consistent skeptic of the Affordable Care Act.
“NRF worked closely with lawmakers throughout the debate with the hopes that bipartisan reform would help make coverage more accessible and affordable. The law that emerged in 2010 was a controversial and partisan measure riddled with punitive mandates and penalties that were as unreasonable as they were unworkable.
“Although the Court upheld the law’s constitutionality, many problems remain: it penalizes employers too much; it doesn’t do enough to reduce the cost of health care; and it is unreasonably complicated and difficult to implement and administer.
“This law will have a dramatic, negative impact on every employer and employee in the United States and further constrain job creation and economic growth.
“NRF will redouble our efforts to repeal the law while we continue to work, in good faith, with regulators to smooth implementation for retailers and businesses alike.”
: “The Court’s decision to keep in place employer mandates will place significant burdens on nearly 40% of our industry and put these businesses at a substantial competitive disadvantage ... For NACS, the health-care debate was very focused. Rather than engaging on the broad tenants of whether the government should or should not be involved, we focused directly on the effects that mandate would have on convenience retailers, and today’s ruling is bad news for our members.
“We are well aware that the country’s health-care system is broken and requires a serious overhaul. We will continue to support common-sense reform to make the system more efficient and eliminate waste and fraud, but today’s decision is a step in the wrong direction.”
• The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA):
“With the Supreme Court decision now behind us, the focus must turn to the employer-mandate and the effect that impending changes to employer-sponsored coverage will have on the nearly 170 million Americans who receive healthcare through their employer.
“President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that if they liked their health insurance, they could keep it. However, today, with just 17 months until the law takes effect, and no meaningful implementation guidelines available for employers, those assurances are in doubt.
“While retailers are committed to continuing to provide health coverage to their employees, overregulation jeopardizes their ability to do so.
“RILA continues to urge the Administration to protect retailers’ ability to offer quality, affordable coverage that fits the unique needs of their workforce and not to undermine the flexible, voluntary system that provides coverage to millions of employees and their families.”
• The National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR):
“Today’s decision will impose costly burdens on the chain restaurant industry, thousands of small business franchisees and their employees. Throughout the legislative debate on the ACA and over the last two years, NCCR has voiced the industry’s consistent concerns that the law would do significant harm to job growth and the economy. We’re afraid that continues to be the case as the industry braces itself for 2014.
“The ACA imposes heavy mandates on employers using punitive penalties for non-compliance. The law will particularly damage the chain restaurant industry, which operates on thin margins and cannot support costly government imposed mandates. Many chains have indicated they will have no choice but to cut back on workers’ hours or close restaurants in order to avoid the penalties.
“NCCR opposed the ACA and has advocated instead for reforms that expand access through lower costs. In 2009, Congress and the president went about health care reform the wrong way. Instead of making health insurance more affordable, they focused on unrealistic mandates and penalties that do nothing but punish employers and weigh down the economy.
“NCCR will continue to work to repeal the ACA and replace it with common-sense reforms that lower the cost of health care insurance for all Americans.”