After health care ruling, small businesses wonder what's next

TULSA - The U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act is seen by many as a historic moment.

But small business leaders in Oklahoma are more concerned about how it impacts their companies than how it is viewed by historians.

Even though most of it won't be implemented until 2014, some believe it has already had an impact on their businesses.

Marty Tamasese is the human resources director for two small businesses in Tulsa.

One company employs 20 workers; the other about 30.

Both companies already pay the majority of their employees' health care expenses.

Tamasese said when the health reform law passed two years ago, it seemed businesses like hers would catch a break.

"They have from day one said that this was going to help lower our costs. This has been going on three years. Every year my costs have increased," said Tamasese.

Tamasese said insurance costs have gone up 10 percent for one company and 27 percent for the other.

She's worried prices will continue rising as more of the law is implemented.

Under the law, companies with 50 or more workers must provide insurance for their employees.

However, companies with fewer than 50 workers aren't required to.

Small businesses have the option of shifting the costs and responsibilities on to their workers, which is not an option Tamasese is willing to consider.

"We could do that, but that's not the type of employer we want to be," said Tamasese. "Our employees are the ones who make this company go. If you're not going to be a good employer and take care of your employees, why be in business?"

Starting in 2014, tax credits will be available to small businesses to help them pay up to 50 percent of insurance costs, but the tax credits are only available to companies with 25 or fewer employees.

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