Members of the foodservice industry expressed deep disappointment and concern after the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision on Thursday to uphold President Barack Obama’s highly controversial health care law.
In a narrow 5-4 ruling, Supreme Court judges upheld the constitutionality of the central element of the president’s sweeping Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate, which requires that all Americans purchase health insurance.
The court’s historic decision is expected to alter the way Americans receive and pay for their medical care.
Industry associations and many restaurant operators have been arguing for the past several years that added costs associated with the law could cut into earnings, force operators to raise prices, eliminate jobs and put the brakes on growth in this already economically challenged environment.
The court’s decision was frustrating for many in the industry.
“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is troubling for restaurant operators and business owners across the country,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive of the National Restaurant Association, in a statement. “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.”
Steve Caldeira, president and chief executive of the International Franchise Association, said the IFA was “deeply disappointed by the high court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, which places undue burdens on the franchise small business community. While it may have been ruled constitutional, the law is unworkable, unaffordable and wrong for our country’s small business owners.”
The Court had listened to three days of arguments in March on the law. The measure was passed by congressional Democrats despite Republican opposition in 2010.
Operators say many elements of the current law have yet to be hammered out and remain unclear to them. “Just because something is found to be legal, that doesn’t necessarily mean that something should be done,” said Jamie Richardson, vice president of government and shareholder relations for White Castle.
“The challenge is going to be understanding how we do it as it has been legislated,” he continued. “The biggest thing still is the uncertainty about how the rules are going to be written. It needs to be made actionable in the real world in a way that doesn’t cripple businesses.”