Small Farms Find Affordable Care Act Not So Affordable

“Obamacare,” as it is affectionately called, has been slowly creeping into our lives. While this legislative maneuver was pragmatic–such  sweeping reform could not be implemented overnight–the incremental adoption perhaps bears the imperceptible perk of stealth. While many are dreaming of a world where Americans have access to desperately needed health care, this massive piece of legislation is integrating itself into the fabric of our country in ways that cannot be easily undone, and will slowly reveal itself to add more gunk to the gears.

Easily, the most controversial aspect of Obamacare is the “Mandate.” What is mandated, however, is not simply for the individual, but also for businesses. Businesses with fifty or more employees are required to provide a health care plan for their employees, or pay a fine ($2000 per employee), just as individuals are required to purchase insurance or pay a fine.

The impact on small businesses, especially those that hire seasonal help, such as farms, is enormous.

Farm-Out-of-Business

 “A lot of farmers may think they are immune from the law, but this is the biggest change to health care since the creation of Medicare or Medicaid almost 50 years ago,” said Matt Coffindaffer, regulatory affairs manager for the National Council of Agricultural Employers. The Federal Register notices on the law have run about 14,000 pages and three federal agencies — Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor and the Treasury Department — are responsible for implementing 550 separate provisions in the law.

The devil is in the details, as they say, and these details (a.k.a. regulations) are still being worked out. You can read more about farmer’s fears here.

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Story Time with the Affordable Care Act

I am in love. I just read a fascinating analysis of the various cases that challenged the Affordable Care Act. But this was no run of the mill legal analysis; it was an amazing journey through the narratives that propelled the law to the drop of the Supreme gavel. The author, K. Chestek, a professor at Indiana University School of Law, combined two of my loves–language and the law–as he explored twelve trial briefs filed in the mosaic of cases that lead to one of the most influential and important cases our Supreme Court has ever heard. Chestek parsed the Hero’s journey sung by each plaintiff and defensive parry by each defendant, and compared the outcome of the cases, to discern if there was any pattern or correlation in the judge’s decisions based on the type of characters and obstacles chosen to tell the tales. It’s a refreshing look at the ACA, and intriguing glimpse into the power of language in the law.

No spoilers here, you’ll have to check it out for yourself, but here’s a taste:

“Persuasion is like a double helix: one strand of logos wound tightly with a strand of narrative reasoning.”

Oooo, it makes me tingle, it’s so nerdy!