Capito: Businesses face hard decisions on health care - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Capito: Businesses face hard decisions on health care

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After talking to businesses and individuals to gain insight into their feelings regarding what's happening in Washington, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said what she sees is frustration.

"People are very frustrated with the tone, the tenor, the lack of action and the lack of decision-making that is going on in Washington and the partisanship," she said at last week's Chamber Business Summit and Annual Meeting.

Capito said there are a lot of issues for individuals, the state and the country as a whole and Congress' approval rating is 9 percent, which she said is indicative of frustration.

"The big word I hear from employers and employees is uncertainty," Capito said.

One of the areas where Capito said uncertainty resides is in energy resources, due to regulatory standards and the interconnected dynamic between energy resources and the state of West Virginia itself. 

"Whether you're deeply connected to the coal industry or not, we know it's part and parcel of who we are as West Virginians," she said. 

People working provides stability and what is going on in the Northern Panhandle with Marcellus Shale is absolutely game-changing, she said.

"Lots of folks that live in that region are reaping the benefit of the raw energy development. And it's fun to see," Capito said.

Looking at all the different factors and providing common-sense solutions is what Capito said needs to happen when talking about energy needs and how to become more self-sufficient. 

Natural gas and further research and development in coal "are the positive things we have going that we should really be talking about rather than the negatives of certain effects of certain energy resources," Capito said.

To determine how price will be affected by regulation, Capito said, it is important to calculate the cost-benefit ratio.

"How many jobs are going to be lost? What's it going to do to a community? What's it going to do to the cost of energy? What's it going to do to the cost of electricity for the person on fixed income?

"These are the discussions we need to have so that you can make these common-sense solutions. We need to join together to get over these partisan issues that we seem to have stalemating a lot of the progress we have made, particularly in the energy sector," said Capito.

Another talking point was health care reform and Obamacare, which goes into full effect January 2014.

Although the business mandate has been pushed back one year, Capito said, "There's a lot of ripple effects I don't think were ever considered properly in Obamacare."

After visiting a day care center with 72 employees who, for the most part, have health coverage through their spouses, Medicaid or parents, Capito said the owner's options, if all 72 employees stay, are paying a penalty of $83,000 for not offering health insurance or providing health insurance and paying more than $200,000.

The other option the business owner has is to cut employee hours to fewer than 29 hours, which characterizes part-time, or cut the employee base down from 72 to 49, averting the 50-employee threshold. 

Capito said every small business that is at or near the 50-employee threshold has voiced concerns about what the mandate will mean and the effect it will have. She said small businesses are more hesitant to expand and those with an overage of 50 employees could be faced with decisions.

When it comes to the 72-employee day care, Capito said it could affect multiple aspects of people's lives.

"If (the business owner) were to cut down to 49 employees, 23 people will lose their job. But how many kids will lose their day care? Then what happens to the parents of the kids who are in day care?" Capito asked. "All of a sudden one of those parents has to cut back their hours or find other arrangements."

Trying to cut the $17 trillion debt by cutting out frivolous spending was also a talking point.

Near the end of the presentation, Capito reached out to the younger generation in an attempt to gain momentum in what she described as a losing battle.

"I think we're really losing our young folks. Their interest is waning and confidence in government is waning because they see us bickering, disrespecting and challenging each other's personal lives and personal situations in order to score a point," she said. "What we need to do is find common ground."

The good news and hope Capito left with was the promise that the common ground is there and it's always been there.