Blue MauMau — Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick on Monday, August 6, signed a health care cost amendment into law that the Dunkin’ Donuts Independent Franchisee Association pushed for, along with the National Federation of Independent Business, the New England Convenience Store Association and the Restaurant and Business Alliance.
This latest legislation is considered the second half of Massachusetts’ health care reform, the original of which was signed by then-governor Mitt Romney. It aims to curb medical costs.
The problem with Massachusetts’ health care was that franchisees were penalized for staff who did not wish to be covered by the franchisee insurance plan, but rather chose to be insured by their parents’ or their spouse’s insurance, or under veterans health care. Massachusetts small businesses with 12 or more employees were fined $295 per year per full-time employee or equivalent who wasn’t covered.
Multi-unit franchisee Robert Branca, chairman at Dunkin’ Donuts Franchise Owners Mass PAC explained to the Boston Herald: “Paying for insurance and paying for a penalty is not fair.” He added, “The penalties to me seem needless. They don’t modify my behavior one bit. They just cost extra money that I could put into expansion.” Branca gives an example to Blue MauMau on how teenagers employed in a franchise naturally prefer to be covered by their parents insurance so they can receive a full pay check without health care deductions.Yet in the past the small business owner would be penalized when the employee elected not to participate in the franchise’s insurance plan.
Jim Coen, outgoing president of the Dunkin’ franchisee association, stresses that he doesn’t object to franchisees receiving tax credit for providing health care, but he does think that the Massachusetts penalties disincentivized franchisees from employing staff. That’s now fixed. He observes that the same problem with penalties that were in Massachusetts are also packed into the national health care law.
“DDIFO will mount an effort to have the penalty removed from the National Health Reform law on behalf of franchise owners nationwide,” states Coen. Coen adds, “Rob Branca spoke to Senator Scott Brown and Senator John McCain in Washington in July at the Coalition of Franchisee Associations Forum, and both Senators supported the reform at the federal level.”
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