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Debate over Obamacare's impact on Alabama businesses

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Individuals aren't the only ones scoping out the federal government's healthcare exchange.

Businesses must also consider plans for their employees.

But not everyone believes businesses will "buy in" to the new law.

State Senator Dick Brewbaker wears many hats--one of which has him managing nearly 80 employees at his family owned car dealership.

"Gotta think long and hard before you hire additional people," says Brewbaker.

That's because Brewbaker believes the federal government's healthcare mandate will hurt the job market.

It requires companies with more than 50 full time employees to provide health insurance.

"This law, because of the way it changes the benefit costs that employers pay, it is a huge disincentive to hire people."

The law imposes penalties on these companies if they choose not to provide healthcare packages to full time employees.

Right now, Brewbaker doesn't anticipate changing the plan his company provides.

But, he knows other companies are already altering their hiring practices to work around the law's new requirements.

"Companies going to 29 hour jobs instead of the full 40 hours because they don't want to have to involve themselves with the Affordable Care Act."

"We don't think that this new opportunity is gonna prompt very many of those to decide that it's not a good idea and they want to get out of it. We think they'll just continue to do what they've been doing," says Jim Carnes with Alabama Arise--an advocacy group for the state's low-income population. 

Carnes doesn't believe large companies will drop their insurance plans, but he says it's not out of the question.

He says most large Alabama companies "have shown a high interest in having healthy workers."

Even still, he's watching for "any adjustments that employers might try to make in order to get out of these obligations, but we're not anticipating much," adds Carnes.

Under the new law, small business owners--those with fewer than 50 full time employees--have the option of offering healthcare plans.

They can find them in the marketplace and possibly receive tax credits.

If they don't offer plans, their employees would simply go to the marketplace just like other Americans.

If you currently have insurance through your company, or on you own, you do not need to go to the marketplace.

If your company decides to stop providing a plan, you would then have to cover yourself before the deadline in March of next year.

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