Business Monday

Did Obamacare hurt your business? South Florida CEOs respond

The Healthcare.gov website is shown on Oct. 25, 2016. Signups for healthcare accelerated after Donald Trump was elected president.
The Healthcare.gov website is shown on Oct. 25, 2016. Signups for healthcare accelerated after Donald Trump was elected president. Sipa USA/TNS

This week’s question: Obamacare could be repealed under President Donald Trump. Did the health law hurt or help your business after it was implemented?

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Over the past two years, we saw an increase in healthcare costs for both our business and employees, which caused some concern. As a result of the changes in the healthcare insurance industry following the law’s implementation, the insurance provider we have used for several years is no longer accepted by many physicians, which created more work and disappointment for employees’ families that had to identify new alternatives.

Donna Abood, principal and managing director, Avison Young

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Due to the seasonal nature of our business, many of our employees are part-time or seasonal employees. Consequently, they are not eligible for healthcare benefits. Obamacare awarded many of my employees the ability to have organized and affordable healthcare. This had a positive impact on my business because happy and healthy employees make for a happy workplace.

Adelee Cabrera, regional director, Starr Catering Group

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We were not impacted in any way by Obamacare. We don’t fall in the employer mandate as we are below the FTE for employees. Our previous health plan was and continues to be in place with minimal increases.

Laurie Kaye Davis, executive director, South Florida, The Commonwealth Institute South Florida

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Obamacare expanded coverage for many of our employees’ extended family members and eliminated restrictions for preexisting conditions. It is always good for business when our workforce and the workforce of our clients have the opportunity and ability to access affordable, quality care. Also, our business interests include the interests of the communities within which we live and work. Florida had one of the biggest declines in the uninsured rate in the nation and also led the nation in sign-ups to the Obamacare health insurance exchange marketplace. A healthier workforce, within our firm, our community and for our clients, is of course good for business.

Albert E. Dotson Jr., partner, Bilzin Sumberg

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We believe it helped because many people who did not have access to insurance were able to sign up for coverage using the exchanges. Within our South Broward Community Health Services, which provides primary care services, we were able to see an increase in patients using the exchanges. A benefit for patients is the on-going care they receive through this access, broadening opportunities for preventative health and better quality of life.

Aurelio M. Fernandez III, president and CEO, Memorial Healthcare System

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The Council for Educational Change is a nonprofit organization. I made appropriate provisions for the health care of my colleagues prior to Obamacare, so that everyone had affordable coverage. Therefore, the repeal of Obamacare would not have a significant impact on the Council. The health law neither hurt nor helped my organization since it was implemented.

Elaine Liftin, president and executive director, Council for Educational Change

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Obamacare did influence our business, and it has been a contributing factor in slower job growth in our sector. It will be interesting to see how the new administration tackles changes on it and how it finds balance between the health needs of the underprivileged while not curtailing the ability of small- and medium-sized business and entrepreneurs to strive and grow. This is and has always been the key of the American economy.

Diego Lowenstein, CEO, Lionstone Development

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While Obamacare is often couched as a healthcare and insurance issue, its context is also in terms of Federal regulation of small businesses. I think this is where it had its greatest impact.

Jay Pelham, president, TotalBank

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Prior to the changes in healthcare law, Johnson & Wales University has historically made providing healthcare to its employees a priority. As an institution, we will continue to seek ways of providing consistent support for our employees’ well-being.

Larry Rice, president, Johnson & Wales University North Miami Campus

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The law has hurt my business, having cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars since its implementation. The sad part is that even at the minimum requirements, most of our employees are still not using it because the cost of medical care is still too high for them. Additionally, thousands of our hourly employees — who are usually on the younger side — are not concerned about health care, and most have opted to pay the fine instead of buying the insurance.

Eddie Rodriguez, CEO, JAE Restaurant Group

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This law has not helped our business. Over the last eight years, we have seen an annual increase of 4-10 percent annually on our premiums while our benefits have declined. This year, we have a 30 percent increase. As a nonprofit, we don’t have a “client” to pass on the cost. We have to make it up somewhere or cut services.

Alex Rodriguez-Roig, president, Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade

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Healthcare costs have risen significantly for our company over the last five years, predating Obamacare. We look forward to any solutions that provide high-quality care to our employees at pricing that is competitive and justified.

Vincent Signorello, president and CEO, Florida East Coast Industries

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We are a small staff nonprofit, so Obamacare definitely helped our bottom line. It also enabled employees who prefer to have their own health care plan to be able to do it affordably.

John Tanzella, president and CEO, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association

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Our firm benefited from Obamacare, even though we offer fully-paid health insurance to employees, since our group’s loss history was averaged in with others and our health insurance costs were not able to be increased by our carrier. I do understand it has its flaws as a program, but for those with life-threatening illnesses, it has been a great benefit.

Faith Read Xenos, co-founding partner, Singer Xenos

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The South Florida CEO Roundtable is a weekly feature that appears in Business Monday of the Miami Herald. Recent questions have included:

▪ CEOs discuss their resolutions for the New Year

▪ CEOs: Trump, ugly politics among the biggest surprises of 2016

▪ CEOs’ top request for Trump’s first 100 days: ‘Unity’

▪ CEOs won’t tolerate ugly comments in the workplace

▪ CEOs assess South Florida’s economy for 2017

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