Business Groups Reluctant To Join NFIB In Suing Federal Government Over Health Reform

Earlier last month, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) — a conservative group aligned with Republican interests — surprised other business organizations when it joined a state-based lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of health care reform. Having successfully lobbied against the employer mandate and in favor of a so-called SHOP exchange that would allow small businesses to purchase coverage in large pools, the NFIB’s members — most of which employ six or fewer staff — stood to gain a lot for the new law. They would be exempt from the free-rider provisions (those only applied to employers with more than 50 employees) and could qualify for a small business tax credit.

Immediately after the announcement, business groups of various sizes and ideological persuasions distanced themselves from the lawsuit. “At this time, we have no plans to do so,” a representative of the National Association of Manufacturers told The Hill. The Chamber of Commerce also said it would not join the suit and would instead pursue an “aggressive strategy of battling the regulations” of reform.

The NFIB is having a hard time persuading smaller, state-based business groups to join their effort. As one article from New Jersey notes, small business groups seem are weary of the lawsuit:

We’re not at a point in time where we are prepared to jump on board,” said Jim Kirkos, president/chief executive officer, “because so far, the reviews have been mixed” on the law. Two committees are debating whether to join, he added. Kirkos said about 78 percent of members employ 50 or fewer people and 60 percent have 10 or fewer. “So under those circumstances, those businesses may not necessarily be against the current health-reform legislation,” he said.

Because of that, the chamber will stick to providing seminars, such as the law’s impact on businesses, said Kirkos, and he will talk to more members before taking a position on the lawsuit. Kirkos said the health care issue is further down on his priority list after economic development, the workforce, education, transportation and tourism. […]

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, which opposed the health care measure, serves 1,600 businesses. The chamber “is not involved in the suit,” said Scott Goldstein, manager of communications.

Small businesses may not be overly enthusiastic about the new law — given the misinformation about the law and the complexity of the measure, that’s not surprising — but they would be foolish to join a frivolous lawsuit that cuts them out of negotiations with HHS about any new regulations.