Some quick food industry reaction to the Supreme Court decision on the individual mandate of the health care law.

Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif

“There is no other agricultural organization in the nation that has been as actively involved in the federal effort to reform healthcare,” Nassif said.  We have spent the last three years advocating on behalf of ag and then anticipating every possible outcome of the law and the challenges made to it in court.  We were prepared for today’s ruling, although I was surprised that the Supreme Court ruled the individual mandate was constitutional under the taxing powers of government.”
“Our mission going forth will be to work with federal regulators to acknowledge the unique needs of ag employers and workers, including those improperly documented individuals for whom the ACA has no provisions,” continued Nassif.  “Congress and the Administration need to finish the work of the Act by making changes that truly recognize the legitimate healthcare needs of this population.  We began many of those discussions in the last two years and will pursue them with greater urgency now.  Our work has just begun again.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman

“Farmers, ranchers and rural residents need affordable and accessible health care. We remain concerned that mandating individuals and businesses to buy insurance will impose an expense that creates economic hardship, particularly for self-employed individuals and small businesses.

“We believe one of the primary goals of health care reform should be to reduce costs for participants. The plan reviewed by the Supreme Court would impose a new financial burden on our members. As the legal and political interpretation of this ruling is further analyzed and debated in the weeks and months ahead, it is important to remember that access to affordable health care eludes many American families across the country.

“Farm Bureau has always supported market-based reforms as the best way to control costs and increase options for people and small businesses that purchase insurance for themselves and their employees. Moving forward, we encourage Congress and the President to work together to address our remaining concerns on this issue that affects millions of small business owners and individuals throughout rural America.”


National Grocers Association President and CEO Statement Peter Larkin

"Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the individual mandate, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, makes the future more certain for employers who must now continue to prepare for 2014 when the majority of the law's provisions will take effect.
"With this decision, N.G.A. will redouble its efforts to minimize the impact and burdens on independent retail grocers by continuing to work closely with fellow members of the Employers for Flexibility in Healthcare Coalition to educate the administration on the important need for maximum flexibility in regulatory requirements.  
"N.G.A. will also continue to work closely with Congress to address key provisions and requirements of the law that are most troublesome to N.G.A., such as the 30 hour threshold for full-time employees, the need for maximum flexibility when determining an employee's status as full or part-time and the chain restaurant menu labeling provision that Congress did not intend for grocery stores.  Additionally, N.G.A. will continue to educate our members on how to implement and comply with the law, which can be a challenge for even the most sophisticated operations.
"N.G.A. supports healthcare reform that increases competition in the marketplace and reduces costs on employers making it easier to provide benefits to employees and their families.  N.G.A. will continue to work closely with Congress and the administration to push for regulations and support legislation that supports this goal while addressing the unique needs of independent retail grocers and wholesalers and their employees."

National Restaurant Association President Dawn Sweeney

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is troubling for restaurant operators and business owners across the country,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “We encourage Congress to continue efforts to repeal the law, since the Court’s decision leaves the employer requirements in place, provisions which impact restaurant operators’ ability to grow and create jobs.”
Based on the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the law, employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees must offer “affordable” health insurance of minimum value to full-time employees and their dependents or pay penalties. The cost of such coverage or the penalties could threaten the very slim profit margin on which most restaurants operate.  
“This unworkable law cannot stand as is,” said Sweeney. “We need reform that addresses the increasing costs our members are faced with each year. Restaurant owners are looking for solutions that will allow them to provide better health care coverage options for their team members, but they cannot be saddled with excessive costs and regulatory burdens that threaten their very business. We ask members of Congress to take action that helps the restaurant industry continue to help create jobs and grow the national economy.”
“As the analysis of the Court’s full ruling becomes clearer, we will continue to evaluate the impact of the implementation of the law on the industry,” said Sweeney.  


FMI President Leslie G. Sarasin

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling upholds PPACA’s multitude of reporting requirements and mandates for food retailers and wholesalers to offer health coverage to their employees.   As employers of millions of full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, uncertainty still remains for food retailers in every community in this country.

“As employers, food retailers will need to follow government agencies’ yet-to-be-released criteria for determining which employees are required to be offered health coverage under PPACA and whether that employer-offered coverage, as required under the new law, is deemed ‘affordable’ and passes the ‘minimal value’ requirements in the statute.  Within the coming 18 months, federal agencies must issue new regulations covering all of these issues and more, and each company across the industry will be forced to decide how best to adjust its health coverage and work schedules, to comply with the new law – or whether to simply withdraw from offering coverage and pay any penalties that may be required.

“In addition, there are two provisions in PPACA that specifically impact the grocery industry:  a restaurant menu labeling requirement that was incorporated into the legislation just prior to its passage followed by a proposed rule from FDA that could expand to supermarkets the regulations intended for restaurants; and a requirement that customers present a doctor’s prescription before being allowed to use an FSA debit card to purchase over-the-counter medicines at their local food stores, while continuing to allow the use of FSA debit cards to purchase eligible items that are not medicines.

“We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to address these concerns as soon as possible.”