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Soapbox under foot, President Barack Obama Thursday touted the benefits of Obamacare, yet again.
He surrounded himself with those who will benefit from the bill, specifically from a provision requiring insurance companies that spent less than 80% of their premiums on health care to send rebates back to consumers and companies.
The White House says $500 million in rebates are being sent out this year. One recipient is small business owner Rick Shewell of Arlington, Virginia
"The rebate last year was $321 dollars, I think," said Shewell.
Shewell recently started his own company with a friend. He said Obamacare helped him get health coverage at an affordable cost. He says he now pays his new, lower premiums with help from his rebate checks.
"I knew about the provisions in the law, but I never expected that we'd actually see the money," said Shewell.
One person who was decidedly not in the audience Thursday was Mary Miller, the CEO of Jancoa, a 41-year-old, family-owned janitorial business in Cincinnati, Ohio. Miller shared her grievances with Congress last year.
"This will destroy the foundation on which this company was built, and the quality of life we are trying to help our employees achieve," Miller said on the House floor last July.
Miller has 340 employees, and the law will soon require her to provide them with health insurance. Miller said she now faces the choice of $1.4 million for employee healthcare, $640,000 in fines for not buying them healthcare, or cutting hours for employees so they are no longer full-time, and thus not required to be insured.
"I'm going out of business that's not okay with me. I have 340 employees and their families depend on that," Miller told CNN.
A recent small business survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which fought against Obamacar, suggests the employer mandate will reduce hiring.
A full 50% of small businesses say they will cut back on employee hours, or replace staff with part-time employees, 24% say they will reduce hiring all together.
"When employees work part-time, they only show up part-time. You never know when to depend on them, and their their quality of life is diminished because people are having to work 2-3 jobs part-time to make ends meet," said Miller.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration announced it was delaying the requirement that larger employers buy insurance for their employees until 2015.
"I feel like the foot has been taken off my throat at the moment. Things are less intense now because of the delay," said Miller.
According to the White House, the delay was due the complexities companies were facing in implementing the new law. But despite the setbacks, Obama's promises have resonated with Americans like Shewell.
"I would say look at what its going to cost you if you don't have insurance," said Shewell. "When you think about that cost coming out of your pocket the cost coming out for insurance is not really that high."
For others, however, like Miller who will be bearing some of the costs of the law, the threat remains that her costs will trickle down to her employees.
"I don't even say outloud what the worst case scenario could be for businesses like mine," said Miller.
Other provisions of the Affordable Care Act are kicking in soon. On October 1, consumers will be able to go online and compare private health care insurance plans on new online marketplaces.