Healthcare Reform Ranks First in Independent Grocers’ Political Concerns Index

Independent grocers express a great level of concern over the financial impact of the changes to healthcare insurance mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Ranking eight political issues from one (most important) to eight (least important), the impact of healthcare reform ranks first by a wide margin, according to the 2012 Independent Grocers Financial Survey, released this month by FMS and the National Grocers Association (NGA).

“Healthcare insurance costs among independent grocers increased by an average of 7.0 percent in 2011 and 77.4 percent expect further cost increases this year,” says Bob Graybill, FMS President and CEO. “Despite year-over-year cost increases, 47.3 percent of independents fully absorbed the additional expenses and another 44.4 percent shared the cost increases with the employees.” As is, healthcare costs make up an average of 1.5 percent of sales, with an average per employee cost of $6,153 in 2011.

Other issues drawing top concern include the budget deficit and deficit spending, with an average score of 3.9. At an average of 4.1, swipe fee regulation continues to rank as a top three concern among independents, despite the enactment of the financial reform legislation (P.L. 111-203).

Another pressing issue among independent grocers is the looming tax crisis. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding income, Medicare wage, estate and other taxes with current rates along with 40 tax provisions set to expire on December 31, 2012. “NGA has worked non-stop through grassroots action, meetings with key legislators, testimony submitted to congressional committees, and in-district meetings with constituents,” says NGA President and CEO Peter Larkin, “all in an effort to press Congress to take action by extending these provisions for at least one year. Many of our members run family-owned businesses that could be greatly affected by the potential changes in estate and other taxes.”

Political Concerns Index 2012 (Ranking scale 1-8, where one is highest concern)

  1. Healthcare reform (average score of 3.1)
  2. Budget deficit and deficit spending (3.9)
  3. Swipe fee regulation (4.1)
  4. Job stimulus/unemployment policy (4.2)
  5. 2012 Presidential election (4.5)
  6. Energy policy (4.9)
  7. Estate (death) tax (5.7)
  8. Immigration reform  (5.9)
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