Local business owner shares concerns about Affordable Care Act

Charlie Arnold testifies before U.S. House of Representatives committee
March 19, 2014
Local businessman Charlie Arnold testified before the U.S. House of Representative's Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce on March 6. He was there to give the perspective on how the Affordable Care Act is negatively affecting the self-employed and micro-business owner. COURTESY NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED

Charlie Arnold of Lewes accepts the fact that President Obama's Affordable Care Act is law, and he's going to abide by it.

The problem he has now is that the law is confusing to understand, difficult to implement, and there seems to be a bias toward big business when it comes to granting extensions to comply with the new law.

“There's a disconnect between Washington and reality,” said Arnold shortly after testifying. “This is not making things affordable. It's having the opposite affect. It's skyrocketing the premiums.”

It's concerns like this that had Arnold in Washington, D.C., March 6 testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce as a representative of the National Association for the Self-Employed. He's been a member of NASE since 1987 and is one of 15 people on its member council, which represents a membership of 150,000.

Arnold owns Arnold Powerwash with his wife Erika, serves as pastor of Seaside Church in Lewes and volunteers as the emergency medical services captain for the Lewes Fire Department. He testified before the committee to give the perspective of the self-employed and micro-business.

He provided the Cape Gazette with a typed version of his testimony. In addition to speaking about the concerns he has about his specific business - like new rules governing Health Reimbursement Accounts and his part-time seasonal employees that the new law categorizes as “leased” - he spoke of concerns other local businesses have, using his cardiologist as a specific example.

“He has 25 employees. He used to pay 100 percent of their medical care, plus some of the out-of-pocket expenses. Now because of the ACA, his personal health coverage cost went up from $1,200 to $2,800 a month. One employee’s cost went from $273.50 a month including dental, to $1,200 a month to cover her and her children. She will now only bring home a little over $200 every two weeks, which does not leave money for much of anything else,” he said to the committee.

He said some people are benefitting from the new law, but it seems to be a very small portion of the population.

“The bottom line is, there is too much myth, too much interpretation, too much fear. People need help, but currently, the way things are, the ACA is causing more problems than it fixes,” he said during the hearing. “We have to work together to fix these new problems. Otherwise, we all will be bankrupt.”

As for the experience of testifying in Washington, D.C., Arnold said he was a little nervous going in, but it ended up not being that bad.

“It was not as stressful as I thought it was going to be. It was fun. I'd definitely do it again,” he said.

Moving forward, questions remain for Arnold and his wife about their healthcare coverage. At the moment, their health insurance coverage is manageable, he said, but the renewal comes up in June, and it's tough to tell how much the cost will go up.

“If we're faced with a 100 percent increase, I don't know what we're going to do,” he said.