By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
LEXINGTON — The CEO of a Madison County manufacturer told members of Congress on Tuesday he feared the Affordable Care Act would lead to a deterioration of benefits for his employees as well as workers at for other small businesses.
John McPhearson, who acquired control of Lectrodryer LLC with a partner in 2001, testified at a Congressional field hearing in Lexington. The hearing was titled “Health Care Challenges Facing Kentucky’s Workers and Job Creators.”
Lectrodryer is the largest manufacturer of liquid dryers in this hemisphere and is the principle supplier to chemical processing plants and oil refineries, according to a news release about the hearing.
McPhearson explained during his five-minute testimony that he was in favor of all Americans having heath insurance. He said his company provides excellent health care coverage to its 63 full-time employees for which his firm pays about $3.68 an hour per employee.
Lectrodryer also employs 70 others who are either temporary workers, co-op students or interns, McPhearson said.
However, premiums for the plans offered to employees by their employers are projected to skyrocket for the next year, according to several of the business owners on the two panels at the congressional hearing. Several of them blamed this on the health care reform act, often called Obamacare.
Most of the act’s provisions go into effect Jan. 1.
McPhearson said he has seen health insurance premium costs go up during the past 12 years while the quality of the plans have gone down. He’s afraid the trend will be exacerbated under Obamacare.
“We feel coverage will deteriorate,” McPhearson said.
He noted that the top plan that will be offered to Kentuckians through the new Health Exchange Marketplace is still not as good as what he offers his employees as Lectrodryer.
McPhearson said he was concerned that plans offered by insurance companies to individuals through the state health insurance exchange might become the “de facto” plans offered to everyone, including by employers.
Another concern that McPhearson and other business owners testified about was the amount of work and uncertainty for human resource managers who have been learning how to navigate the new regulations.
McPhearson said Lectrodryer is considering hiring another human resources professional to deal with the increased workload and reporting requirements created by the Affordable Care Act.
U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth (D), Andy Barr (R), Brett Guthrie (R) – all representing Kentucky districts – and Phil Roe, a Tennessee Republican, took part in the hearing. All four congressmen serve on the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.
The Republican congressmen set the tone early in the hearing, expressing their dislike of the Affordable Care Act and listing multiple ways it will negatively affect Americans and the economy.
Roe, who chairs the subcommittee, said the ACA is a “fatally flawed law that will kill jobs.”
“It is clear cracks in Obamacare are growing and getting deeper,” Barr said.
His stance on the legislation was not partisan, Barr said, and several audience members who support the legislation erupted in laughter and boos.
Roe called for order and explained that a congressional hearing is not like a town hall where the crowd can verbally interact with the politicians. House of Representatives rules of order must be followed, he said.