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What’s Next After the Employer Mandate Delay? Continuing to Press for More Key Policy Changes

Stephen J. Caldeira, CFE, International Franchise Association President & CEO

Stephen J. Caldeira, CFE, International Franchise Association President & CEO

The franchise community and employers nationwide received welcome news just before Independence Day last month. On July 2, the Obama administration announced that enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate would be delayed until 2015, allowing businesses one additional year to comply with the burdensome and complex requirements of the mandate. This type of transition relief for employers is something that IFA and other business groups have spent the past two-plus years advocating for since the law was passed. In a blog post announcing the delay, Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, said: “In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right. We are listening.”

Businesses large and small realized upon the passage of the Affordable Care Act that there would be many difficult and costly changes for employers. A study prepared by the Hudson Institute says that the employer mandate puts millions of jobs at risk and would cost businesses billions of dollars in the franchise industry alone. Additionally, the increasingly complex regulations of the employer mandate released over the past year have made it clear that the Jan. 1, 2014 deadline for full implementation of the law is unrealistic, and is a burden that weighs heavily on many franchise businesses. Franchise owners constantly strive to open new locations and hire new employees, and a policy that discourages such basic entrepreneurial instincts is one that we must fight with both persistence and passion.

It is true that the administration has been listening to businesses. Over the past year alone, IFA has taken part in a half dozen meetings with top White House and senior administration officials, including Treasury, HHS and the SBA, and we’ve also submitted dozens of comments to regulators. And the new transition relief for employers is just that: a relief. But we cannot afford to rest as there are other aspects of the law that are also burdensome and onerous for employers, so our work continues to mitigate the effects of those components. The franchise industry has successfully advocated for modest changes to the health care law thus far, but the needs of our industry become more urgent and the stakes for our businesses increase with each day that brings us closer to full implementation of the employer mandate.

The surprise announcement by the administration has created an opportunity that cannot be missed. We now know that Congress and the administration are listening closely to small businesses, and we must present our case for key policy changes strongly and clearly. For this reason, I hope that you will consider attending IFA’s 2013 Public Affairs Conference, Sept. 16-17 in Washington, D.C. Attendees will receive policy briefings from IFA’s Government Relations & Public Policy staff, and hear remarks from prominent leaders in government and business. Most importantly, attendees will take franchising’s message to Capitol Hill, meeting directly with their lawmakers to explain how the employer mandate impacts their business and what changes can be made to ease the law’s burden.

This association derives its strength from its members’ commitment to protect, enhance and promote franchising. We accomplish this collective goal in many ways, but in the arena of government relations and public policy, there is no substitute for dedicated and determined grassroots advocates. We need your help to ensure that the voice of franchising echoes throughout the halls of Congress, and to continue our industry’s push toward more sensible policy that will enable our businesses and the American economy to flourish.

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