Restaurant Industry Wary of Ill Effects From Health Care Reform

According to a report from Nation’s Restaurant News, “Ken Willis says the town hall meeting he attended in Denton, Texas, was not marked by the rancor and deep division that has dominated some other recent gatherings across the nation. But that doesn’t mean participants did not harbor fears about the impact national health care reform might have on their businesses.”
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, hosted a town hall meeting in Denton, Texas, to discuss health care reform.

“Willis took the opportunity to address his congressman, Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, and other business professionals when he was invited to participate in a panel discussion at the meeting earlier this month.”

“’I voiced concerns about the effect health care reform might have on our margins,’ said Willis, owner of Ruby’s Diner on the Square and two Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream and Soda Fountains in Denton. ‘Most restaurants are run on very slim profit margins these days, and the costs [associated with mandated health care] could definitely hurt us.’”

“Willis, like many other operators, acknowledges there are serious problems with this country’s existing health care system, not the least of which are the ever-escalating costs. But they also worry that the potential costs associated with overhauling the system could critically damage their businesses, which already are buffeted by the recession.In particular, some operators are troubled that the program’s 10-year, $900-billion price tag could be financed in part by the business community through mandated coverage fees and new taxes.”

“’There’s not a restaurateur out there who doesn’t believe that everybody should have the right to health care,’ said Harry Rose, chief executive of The Rose Group, a Newton, Pa.-based company that franchises 59 Applebee’s and four Corner Bakery Cafes. ‘The question is: How is it going to be funded? Washington wants a mandatory program as opposed to reducing the cost of health care and making it more affordable. I’m opposed to mandatory health care.’”

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