‘Uncertainty Remains’ on Health Care

ARLINGTON, Va. — The impact of Thursday’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act remains to be seen, as food retailers and their associations work to influence the legislation and regulations that will define how the law is implemented.

Leslie G. Sarasin [3]“As employers of millions of full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, uncertainty still remains for food retailers in every community in this country,” said Leslie G. Sarasin [3], president and chief executive officer, Food Marketing Institute.

Among the details of concern to supermarket operators are how employee eligibility will be determined, and how the government will set the parameters for the newly required "affordability" and scope of the plans that employers offer their workers.

“Within the coming 18 months, federal agencies must issue new regulations covering all of these issues and more, and each company across the industry will be forced to decide how best to adjust its health coverage and work schedules, to comply with the new law — or whether to simply withdraw from offering coverage and pay any penalties that may be required,” Sarasin said.

In addition, there are two provisions in the new law that specifically impact the grocery industry: menu labeling of calorie counts, which FMI says was not meant to cover supermarkets, and restrictions on the purchase of of OTC medications using flexible spending accounts.

“We'll have to do what we can to repair those parts that we can through the legislative and regulatory arena," Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president, government and public affairs, FMI, told SN.

Peter LarkinPeter Larkin [4], president and CEO, National Grocers Association, said, "With this decision, NGA will redouble its efforts to minimize the impact and burdens on independent retail grocers by continuing to work closely with fellow members of the Employers for Flexibility in Healthcare Coalition to educate the administration on the important need for maximum flexibility in regulatory requirements.”

He added that NGA “supports health care reform that increases competition in the marketplace and reduces costs on employers.”