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Does the Affordable Healthcare Act Impact HVAC Contractors?

How many of you are just sick and tired of all the political ads running on TV, over the Internet, through phone solicitations during dinner, in magazines and newspapers? It is an election year - the hype and banter is increasing exponentially, invading nearly all the communications channels.

It's Obama versus Romney. It's the war terror. It's the outpouring of campaign rhetoric that bombards us like a drone attack in Afghanistan. I think many people are beginning to tune out.The thing is, there are a number of very important issues on the table, but they tend to get watered down by the relentless chatter and repetition of everything.

Case in point: this week the hottest hot potato is the Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the federal healthcare law (The Affordable Care Act). Some say the decision will be made tomorrow, but the court has already postponed their ruling at least once. So I'm just hitting the high notes on the importance of this to the small business person in general, HVACR contractors in particular.

Supporters say this law enables all Americans to have access to vital and necessary medical care. Opponents say it violates the U.S. Constitution. Supporters look at the socialized medical systems of Canada and England as benchmarks. Opponents don't see socialism and democracy mixing very well. And the issue of how all this actually gets paid for is answered in the smoke and mirrors of a national debt that is so far beyond comprehension, that it's funny. To the point of tears.

But is anyone talking about the impact on small business owners of a law that mandates healthcare to all Americans - small business owners such as HVACR contractors? Sure, but such discussions seem buried in all the political rhetoric and noise.

From my perspective, HVACR contractor employers should be questioning what this law will cost them. What real options do you have for controlling those costs? Oh, and what about the paperwork - how much will there be and what impact does it have on the operation and management of a profitable business that keeps your employees employed?

These type of questions are at the core of a 20-state lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the law and is now in the hands of U.S. Supreme Court. Their ruling is expected sometime during the week of June 25th.

There is a great summary of what the Supreme Court Justices are considering in the Wall Street Journal article, "Federal Power At Issue in Key Cases."

The reporter, Jesse Braving, highlights four scenarios on how the Supreme Court could rule. I've added some of my thoughts to his:

1. They uphold the law as it stands which is not the best-case scenario for small business owners, but would benefit the Obama re-election campaign as well as the medical industry that has spent two years preparing.

2. They eliminate the insurance mandate, but the rest of the law remains intact. Braving says this is the worst-case scenario for the insurance companies that would have to cover costs for people who wait to buy insurance until they're sick. This could also benefit small business owners (in my opinion), though only slightly. The paperwork quagmire would still need to be addressed.

3. They strike down the insurance mandate and two related provisions, but the rest of the law remains intact. Those provisions would require insurers to accept all customers and restrict those insurers from charging more based on a person's medical history. The loss of these provisions is bad for consumers, good for insurance companies, and could be painful for small business owners who may be called upon to pick up more of the costs for insurance.

4. The entire law is deemed unconstitutional and they strike it down. Great news for the small business owner. Not so much for the consumer in general. And definitely bad news for the Obama re-election campaign.

However the justices rule, the impact is historical in nature. This is a big deal. My July editorial will address how their decision impacts you.

Which is why I'm very interested in your viewpoints on healthcare reform and its impact on your business? Please drop me a note here in Discus, message me on Facebook, or Tweet your comments to @ContractingBiz.

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