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Restaurant Chains Declare War on Obamacare

But It's Their Employees Who Are the Casualties

Copyright © 2012 by David E. Ross

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Republicans began using the term "Obamacare" as a negative epithet, hoping their hostility against the Affordable Care Act might cause voters to reject a second term for President Barak Obama. However, Obama should be proud of that health-care legislation. Thus, I choose to associate his name with a law that might prove as important for the United States as any law passed in the prior forty years.

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John Schnatter, the CEO of the Papa John's Pizza chain, has declared war against the Affordable Care Act, often called "Obamacare". He claims Obamacare will cost his company $8,000,000 per year or 14¢ per pizza. (Using Schnatter's $8,000,000 figure and Securities and Exchange Commission filings by Papa John's, Caleb Melby of Forbes Magazine computes the actual cost at less than 5¢ per pizza, less than 0.7% of the company's annual expenses.) To avoid providing Papa John's employees with health insurance, Schnatter plans to cut the employees work hours to less than 30 per week so that they do not qualify for insurance. Failing to defeat Obamacare by electing Mitt Romney — after hosting a fund-raising party for Romney on his estate at $1,000 to $25,000 per person — Schnatter is now targeting his employees.

I sent a postal letter to Schnatter, giving him a very personal view of Obamacare.

letter head

16 November 2012

John H. Schnatter, Chairman
Papa John's International Inc.
2002 Papa John's Boulevard
Louisville, KY 40299-2367

Mr. Schnatter:

As Mitt Romney stated, President Obama did indeed give many gifts to win his election. Obamacare was one of those gifts. For my son, Obamacare is the gift of life.

Obamacare has already eliminated annual and life-time maximum coverages for health insurance. My adult son Allen is 45 years old. Although he never smoked or worked in a toxic environment, he was diagnosed with cancer in both lungs four years ago. Allen's cancer treatments mean he would exceed his annual coverage limit before the end of February of each year and would have exceeded his life-time coverage limit 18 months after he was first diagnosed. Without Obamacare, my son would be dead. With Obamacare, however, Allen has still has health insurance that continues to provide ongoing treatment. Obamacare means that my son remains employed and even paying taxes.

Not only was Obamacare a gift of life for my son, but it was also a gift of a father to his own five-year-old son. Of course, it was also a gift to my wife and me since parents should not have to bury their children.


David E. Ross

Of course, Papa John's is not the only restaurant chain taking measures against Obamacare. Darden Concepts, owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, has also been making employees part-time to prevent them from being covered by the insurance mandate.

A Denny's franchisee in Florida — John Metz — is imposing a 5% surcharge on all his restaurant bills, inviting customers to subtract the surcharge from their servers' tips. The parent Denney's company issued a statement that said, in part:

these statements do not capture the respect by Denny's, the Denny's Franchisee Association or our franchise community at large for our hardworking employees or for our valued customers.
Metz is also cutting his employees' hours, giving them a double blow rather that provide something that most developed nations consider a basic moral imperative: comprehensive health care.

My wife and I often eat at Red Lobster and Olive Garden. I think I will now find someplace else to eat.

26 November 2012

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