Ala. doctors, businesses react to new health care law

Shari Rossman owns Cool Beans in Montgomery.
Shari Rossman owns Cool Beans in Montgomery.

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The gigantic healthcare reform package is said to be 2,700 pages long, far more difficult to digest than the eclectic menu at Cool Beans in downtown Montgomery.

"There is a lot of horse trading going on up there," said Cool Beans owner Shari Rossman.

Rossman has five employees. She doesn't know what to make of President Obama's healthcare overhaul. Rossman offers health insurance but her employees aren't taking advantage of it.

"Some of my employees are covered by their parents' insurance, fortunately," said Rossman.

Across the country there are more than 29 million small business owners like Rossman. As a group they employ 58 million people.

As of right now small businesses will not feel an immediate impact from the new health care law. By 2014, however, small businesses and the self-employed will be able to shop around through the new state purchasing pools called 'exchanges.' In theory, at least, by pooling together small businesses; "In the long run it should reduce cost," said Rossman.

And by running a small business in Alabama, Rossman could benefit from the state's health insurance premium deduction program passed two years ago by the Alabama legislature.

"This is where small businesses are given a 150% tax credit for what they spend on health insurance for their employees," Rossman said.

On the whole Rossman feels the health care law could be good business for small businesses.

It's also apparently good for doctors.

"With the reconciliation bill currently being debated in the Senate, Medicaid payments could increase for primary care physicians which is long overdue," said Dr. Jorge Alsip, President of the Medical Association of Alabama.

But there is a downside. "Unfortunately, the 32 million won't see coverage until 2014," said Dr. Alsip.

Doctors and small businesses, two groups who have mixed feelings about the new health care law, both agree only time will tell though if this was the right medicine after all.

Alabama mirrors much of the country. 90% of the businesses in the state are small businesses and they employ the majority of the workers.

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