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Gallup: Health costs are No. 1 concern for small businesses

Gallup: Health costs are No. 1 concern for small businesses

Small businesses say healthcare costs are the No. 1 factor hurting their operating environment, according to a new Gallup poll.

Fifty-four percent of small businesses said healthcare costs are hurting the business environment "a lot" — making the it the No. 1 impediment identified by business owners.

Taxes on small businesses came in just behind, at 53 percent.

"These worries are likely tied -- at least in part -- to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its potential impact," Gallup said. "Small-business owners are trying to keep their workforces under 50 employees so they are exempted from key parts of the act and in this regard are reducing employee hours so they are not counted as full time."

Businesses also identified rising healthcare costs as an impediment to hiring, according to Gallup. Sixty-one percent said concerns about the cost of healthcare are causing them not to hire new employees — No. 4 on the list, behind not needing any additional employees, concerns about sales and revenues and concerns about the overall economy.

Some small-business owners, particularly franchise owners, have cut their employees' hours to avoid complying with the law's employer mandate, which requires most businesses to provide health benefits to their workers.

The National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small businesses, was a leading plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the healthcare laws's individual mandate, and it has been a vocal critic of "ObamaCare."

The law provides tax credits to encourage small businesses to provide healthcare coverage, although the credits are relatively narrow and have not been claimed widely.

House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) sent a letter to the Obama administration in December requesting information on the anticipated impact of ObamaCare’s employer mandate on employment – specifically for part-time workers and average hours worked. To read the letter, click here.

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