That was the basic point made by Tom Dickman, owner of Total Resources Industries, a manufacturer of custom parts for fluid-powered machinery located on Icehouse Avenue in Sparks. He spoke to the media along with Tim Wulf, president of the local Jimmy John’s sandwich franchise, and Mark Hutchinson, lead attorney for Nevada in the multi-state lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, expressing hope that the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the law in a ruling expected later this week.
“We don’t know what will happen once it is implemented,” Dickman said about the controversial law, which includes a requirement that all Americans carry health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. “If the Supreme Court allows it to stand as is, we don’t know how it will look at the end.”
Dickman, a Michigan native who started the business in Sparks 13 years ago with his wife, said the uncertainty of the law’s requirements have prompted him to put on hold possible expansion of his business. Adding health care costs to his business would force him to either charge more for his products or consider expansion via automation, which could hurt his sales or hurt employment.
“Robots don’t come under the laws for health care,” Dickman said.
A fully functioning machine that could work in his shop 24 hours a day would cost about $125,000 and pay for itself in about one year, Dickman said, the option of which could make sense business-wise but “people are going to suffer for it,” he said.
Hutchison, a lawyer from Las Vegas who also is seeking election to the state Senate, said he is confident the Supreme Court will strike down the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare.
“It will be a great day for our Constitution and a great day for our state,” Hutchison said. Nevada is one of 26 states that joined a lawsuit against the law.
When asked about how the federal law differs from the one passed in Massachusetts by former governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Hutchison said the states have the power under the Constitution to implement such a requirement on its citizens while the federal government does not. He also said the law in Massachusetts passed with bipartisan support, which the federal bill did not.
Romney does not support a nationwide mandate, Hutchison said. The event at Total Resource was organized by the Romney campaign of Nevada.
Wulf said that the local Jimmy John’s franchise reached its peak in 2008 with three stores and 100 employees. The recession, which he said is a result of a hostile business environment under the Obama administration, has taken its toll and forced him to scale back to two stores and 54 employees, he said. If he still had the 100 employees, Wulf said, the health insurance mandate of Obamacare would cost him $80,000. But, he said, the health reform law is just the “tip of the iceberg,” with energy costs, tax increases and regulations looming under the surface that he says will hurt business.
“We could do seven stores,” Wulf said, “but (in this environment) you have to ask yourself why?”
Tray Abney, director of government relations at The Chamber, said health care costs are one of the biggest — if not the biggest — concerns among the organization's business members. The law's relief for small business in the form of a tax credit is so complex that it might not be of any benefit, Abney said.
"Part of the whole problem is small businesses have to hire a whole other person to figure out if they get the credit," he said.
As an organization, The Chamber has officially opposed the Affordable Care Act, Abney said.