New Orleans Credit to where credit is due, you have to give the devil his due, Jackson-Hewitt, the tax preparers, performed a public service in trying to calculate what businesses are going to have to pay, partially as a result of recalcitrant, Republican denials of full coverage protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the price tags are in the billions. I know Jackson-Hewitt well, having been out to the New Jersey suburbs to their offices to negotiate with them regularly when we were not meeting in Manhattan with their general counsel at their spaces near Times Square, and met with their folks from top to bottom to negotiate agreements to reduce the practices and the costs of refund anticipation products.
In the summary of their report they cite the cost to Texas to mid-sized employers with over 50 workers due to the Governor’s refusal to accept ACA at between $250 million and almost $500 million. In just the 22 states where governors are denying health care, the estimated burn ranges from $800+ million to $1.2 billion. Nationally all of the potential penalties could range several billion for employers.
Governors’ like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal are clearly sweating the numbers because they have been pretending that all they were really doing was killing off more poor people by denying coverage expansion, and figuring that their base doesn’t really care so much about that, but these mid-sized businesses are their bread and butter. Jackson-Hewitt called the Louisiana number for employer payments of penalties at between $51 million and $72 million. Meanwhile in the Baton Rouge Advocate reports clearly on the dispute as Jindal’s head of Health and Hospitals tried to defend his claim that the cost would only be about 10% of what Jackson-Hewitt’s conservative numbers showed. The Jackson-Hewitt spokesperson volunteered to meet with Jindal’s folks and show them the math, pointing out that they didn’t have a “dog in the race” because they actually make more money doing the tax returns for businesses having to pay the penalties. What a painful irony this is! Jindal’s guy tried to claim that he was sticking to his story, no matter what the facts were, which I read as him really saying that his own job depended on his “lying eyes” as Richard Pryor called it.
The piper is going to be paid by more than just poor people for this last stand at the schoolhouse by these governors. Here are the Jackson-Hewitt numbers, and thanks again for them!