Franchisee to Congress: Employer Mandate Delay Does Not Alter Fundamental Problems with ACA



Yesterday, the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways & Means held a hearing to examine the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate.  Last Tuesday, the Administration announced that it would be delaying the implementation until 2015. In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) expressed the Subcommittee’s concern with the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate and the way the announcement was made by the Administration.  Chairman Brady also mentioned the consequences of the employer mandate for small businesses, saying that 3.2 million full-time jobs were at risk in the franchise industry alone.

falk wm health testify

Sean Falk, an IFA member and multi-unit franchisee of Mrs. Fields Cookies, Great American Cookies, PretzelMaker and Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, was among the witnesses to testify before the Subcommittee on behalf of IFA. In his prepared remarks, Mr. Falk emphasized the concerns he and the franchise community had with the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. He applauded the Administration for delaying the implementation of the employer mandate, but made it clear that “it does not solve the fundamental problems associated with the ACA and its impact on business operations and future job growth.” Click the thumbnail above to view a video of Mr. Falk’s testimony.

Mr. Falk testified that the mandate places a massive regulatory burden on his businesses and other franchise small businesses, stating that, “navigating the constant changes, waivers, extensions, regulations and clarifications of an already cumbersome law has diverted my focus from developing my business and creating new jobs.” Mr. Falk also noted that two specific changes to the employer mandate would go a long way to help franchise small business owners implement the law: increasing the 30-hour threshold that qualifies an employee as full-time to 40 hours a week; and increasing the 50 full-time equivalent employee threshold that requires employers to provide coverage to full-time employees.

Many of the Committee members commended Mr. Falk in his efforts to try and navigate the complexities of this law, like Congressmen Tom Price (R-GA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA). Chairman Brady concluded the hearing by thanking the witnesses and announcing a second hearing on the same subject. Next Wednesday, J. Mark Iwry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Retirement and Public Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury will testify at the Subcommittee’s second hearing to examine the employer mandate delay.

Later that day, IFA hosted a members-only webinar to further address the challenges franchise business owners face in implementing the employer mandate. After a brief update on advocacy from IFA’s Senior Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy Judith Thorman, insurance industry veterans Andria Herr and Holly Wahl with IFA Supplier Member Hylant Group, an insurance brokerage with decades of experience working with the franchise industry, provided insight on the types of plans available to large and small employers alike.   Click here for a recording of the webinar.

Sean Falk appeared on CNBC to discuss how small business owners are concerned about the delay of the employer mandate:

The Hill: A delay in employer mandate is good, but more relief would be better

IFA continues to lobby to ensure that the ACA is implemented with minimal negative impact on small business owners



Recently, legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate that would change the definition of a full-time employee from an average of 30 hours per work to 40 hours per week.  Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the house version, H.R. 2575, and a companion bill, S. 1188, was introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

Under the ACA, employers must provide health insurance coverage to full-time employees and their dependents or face significant penalties.  The House bill, entitled the Save American Workers Act, was introduced with 113 co-sponsors including the Chairman of both the Ways & Means and Education & Workforce Committees.  IFA worked to draft the legislation with Rep. Young’s staff and secured a majority of the original co-sponsors for the introduction of H.R. 2575.  Passage of this legislation is a priority for IFA and we will continue to lobby and educate both sides of the aisle on the need for this change.

The Franchise Industry is Pleased with ACA Extension, But More Relief is Needed



The IFA is pleased with last week’s announcement by the Obama Administration to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate and reporting requirements until 2015, but urges more relief for small businesses.

Before and after the law passed, the IFA has been relentless in meeting with key officials at the SBA, including administrator Karen Mills, the White House, including Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement Valerie Jarrett, former domestic policy advisor Melody Barnes and the current advisor Cecilia Muñoz, former senior treasury advisor Gene Sperling, who is now the director of the National Economic Council, former healthcare advisor Nancy-Ann DeParle, as well as, Jeanne Lambrew, deputy director of the new White House Office of Health Reform, Mark Iwry Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury and Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax Policy) for Retirement and Health Policy and Sol Ross, Director of Business Outreach at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Administration announced that the delay has two goals: to allow regulators to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law and to provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.  The IFA will carefully review the changes and offer additional recommendations to improve the law and will not let up on our efforts to change the definition of a full-time employee from 30 to 40 hours.

See below for media hits on IFA’s statement regarding last week’s delay:

  • Politico: “We are glad the administration listened to the concerns of businesses. Our members need more time to figure out how the law applies to them — and to get ready for it. We don’t want to forget there are significant changes needed in the law, so long term we are still going to pursue those.” IFA’s SVP Government Relations & Public Policy, Judith Thorman
  • National Journal: We applaud the administration for responding to our repeated requests to provide relief from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. This will relieve the onerous and costly burdens of the ACA for one year, and allow the administration to reexamine its implications for small businesses.” – IFA President and CEO, Steve Caldeira
  • Washington Post: “We need to make sure that we don’t forget that this is still a problem. There is still the definition of [what constitutes] a full-time employee that we’re going to try and pursue. That’s a significant issue for us.”IFA’s SVP Government Relations & Public Policy, Judith Thorman
  • The Hill: “We definitely did not expect this; there was a lot of pressure. The law goes into effect in January, and all the regs aren’t out. Employers and employees were confused.”IFA’s SVP Government Relations & Public Policy, Judith Thorman
  • Politico: “Honestly, it was a surprise that it came this quickly. We certainly felt like we were making headway, but we didn’t get any hints until yesterday.”IFA’s VP Public Affairs and Chief of Staff to the CEO, Matt Haller


Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation Quick to React to Arizona First Responders




As the wildfires in Yarnell Arizona continue to burn out of control, making it the deadliest wild land fire since 1933, 200 more firefighters arrived this week to help battle the blaze which was ignited by lightening.  Monday, the wind-driven wildfire claimed the lives of 19 elite firefighters of the Prescott Fire Department’s Granite Mountain Hotshots, making it the deadliest day for firefighters since the 9/11 attacks.  As makeshift memorials of flowers and American flags formed around the small mountain town, companies and near-by communities along with the American Red Cross wasted no time in answering the call to help those affected most.

IFA member Firehouse Subs through their Public Safety Foundation has already hit the ground from their Arizona restaurants, feeding first responders, volunteers and evacuees with their subs.  The Foundation will give 200 subs per day for the next week to the American Red Cross for distribution, while also providing fire, police and EMS departments the opportunity to request life-saving equipment, replacing any equipment lost in the fires. IFA, which has donated to the Foundation’s efforts, encourages all companies to reach out in any way possible to help those victims who continue to be affected by the fires.

“We will remember the 19 firefighters always as heroes, for protecting the lives of the citizens in their state,” said IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira.  “The IFA is committed to helping and assisting in any way possible those who are on the ground aiding in the recovery operations in Arizona.”

The American Red Cross Grand Canyon is currently accepting monetary donations to help provide food, water and beds at two shelters at Yavapai College and Wickenburg High School.  The shelters are providing places to stay for those evacuated from their homes in the wake of the fire.

The IFA is keeping those impacted and families of the victims in our thoughts and prayers as firefighters continue to fight to control the deadly blaze. For more information of Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, please click here.  Please visit America Red Cross Disaster Relief to help and get involved.

This July 4th, IFA recognizes veterans who have started careers in the franchise industry



On Nov. 10, 2011, IFA announced “Operation Enduring Opportunity,” a franchise industry-wide campaign to hire and recruit as owners 80,000 veterans and military spouses through 2014.  Since 2011, nearly 65,000 veterans have entered franchising, including 4,314 owners.  On April 30, the White House Joining Forces initiative announced that 290,000 veterans and military spouses have been hired or trained since the launch of the initiative in 2011.   Franchising contributed almost a quarter of this total.

This effort builds on IFA’s long-standing VetFran strategic initiative, founded in 1991.  VetFran now includes a record 580-plus IFA member-franchise companies offering financial incentives, training and mentoring to veterans interested in small-business ownership and/or a career path in franchising.  In association with July 4, IFA & VetFran proudly highlight a few of the veterans to enter franchising in the past year.

Araya clean

Tom Martin:    

Tom Martin served honorably as a U.S. Marine in the presidential honor guard for President George H.W. Bush. One of his highlights in the honor guard was serving at the White House during a visit by Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev. After the Marine Corps, he went to college and worked at a boys’ home. Later, he transitioned to IT work at the Creative Artists Agency where he met Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Martin eventually burned out on Corporate America and decided to start his own business. He worked with FranChoice to find a good match, and eventually found Araya Clean, the nation’s fastest growing mobile pressure washing franchise. Like many veterans, Martin chose Araya Clean because of its proven business model, dedication to protecting the environment and veteran financing program.

bach to rock

Dave Leonard and Ellen Good

bach to rock zee

Husband-and-wife team Dave Leonard and Ellen Good have signed a franchise agreement to open the first Pennsylvania location for Bach to Rock, America’s music school for students of all ages. The school is scheduled to open during the summer of 2013 in Philadelphia’s Main Line corridor (Wayne, Pa.) and will teach a wide variety of instruments and music, from 60s rock to Taylor Swift. Bach to Rock offers professional recording studios for both children and adults to use, as well as jam sessions. Leonard and his wife decided to combine their love of music and education to open their first Bach to Rock. He is a U.S. Army veteran and taking advantage of the brand’s veteran incentives program.

BS care

AJ Cosmo

BS care zee

AJ Cosmo served in Iraq the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001-2005 and was on the front lines during the invasion of Iraq. After being discharged from the Marines, Cosmo transitioned into life insurance and then to the postal service. During this time, he went to college full time and eventually earned his degree. After the postal service, Cosmo stayed in South Carolina for two years before moving back to Georgia. He then decided to go into franchising because he desired the opportunity to run his own business, while mitigating risks by following a proven system with a successful track record.  Cosmo had always been very close to his grandparents and his grandmother eventually had to move into ecumenical housing. There, his grandmother fell while unattended and passed away. Realizing that homecare could have helped her, Cosmo decided to open his own BrightStar Care with his father to help prevent this tragic incident from happening to other families.


Allan Larson

Allan Larson (39 years old) joined the military when he was just 18 years old and spent 20 years in the service. Initially a combat engineer, Larson joined the U.S. Army Special Forces where he spent the majority of his career (15 years). Though stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Larson did three tours in Iraq, one in Afghanistan and numerous other tours around the world. Nearing the end of his military career, he began researching his options within the franchising world. A firm believer in the benefits of massage – Larson incorporated massage into his regular routine after shoulder surgeries.  With a desire to help others, he knew Elements was the right fit.  He opened his studio in May 2013 in Brentwood, Tenn. just outside of Nashville.

FS internaitonal

Doug Graham

Doug-FS Doug Graham served in the Air Force and the International Guard for 36 years and retired in October 2012. Once he returned, he tested the job market and realized that his specific skill sets from the military were not what most companies were looking for. With this in mind, Graham began looking into franchising and eventually stumbled across FASTSIGNS.  FASTSIGNS offered the proper amount of training and remained in contact with him throughout the startup process, which he greatly appreciated. Graham’s store is scheduled to officially open in just a few weeks.

Eric Schnitzer

Erica fsEric Schnitzer went into the Air Force in Colorado Springs in 1983 where he was commissioned as lieutenant. There, Schnitzer did pilot training, flying several different kinds of planes. He served in Dessert Storm, in Bosnia and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired in October 2012 and decided that he wanted to start a business in which he could be his own boss. Leaning toward franchising because it’s the best way to get the support needed, Schnitzer started seriously considering FASTSIGNS due to his engineering/technology background. During his time in the military, Schnitzer learned leadership and management skills, how to put a team together and how to set objectives to ensure everyone works toward a common goal and he feels that FASTSIGNS provided him with the opportunity to strive in the areas he knows best. His store is scheduled to open in a few weeks.

honest 1

Steve Grimes

In 2007, after returning from a year-long tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 41st Brigade Combat Team of the Oregon Army National Guard, Steve Grimes was trying to decide what to do with the next chapter of his life.  Grimes found Honest-1, a young brand he felt he could grow with and opened his first location in Portland that September.  Six years later and he has been able to open four Honest-1 shops in Oregon and he will be opening his fifth Honest-1 location in Aloha, Ore., on July 5.  As a part of the grand opening, the first 50 customers will get biodegradable plant feed packets, five of which will win the customer free oil changes for a year.  He also has plans to open a sixth location in the next six months to a year.

protect painters

Paul “Buddy” Rhoades

tect painters zeeWhen Paul “Buddy” Rhoades returned from a 12-month tour in Afghanistan last year, he thought his leadership skills would put him near the top of any private employer’s candidate list. After unsuccessfully applying to hundreds of positions, however, Rhoades decided to take matters into his own hands. Eleven months ago, he became a small-business franchise owner when he opened ProTect Painters, a professional painting franchise that combines his home improvement passion with a proven business model. As the owner, Rhoades manages painting crews on both residential and commercial projects. Since opening, he has completed 59 painting jobs and is well on his way to establishing financial freedom.


Mike Lambert

valpak zeeMike Lambert began his career with the United States military, spending six years in the Marine Corps. After he left the Marines as a sergeant, Lambert became a government contractor supporting the U.S. intelligence community, where he has been for the past 16 years. Eager to start his own business, Lambert learned of Valpak through a fellow Marine, Mike Lozier, franchise owner of Valpak of Garden State East in Northern New Jersey, who has had great success with the franchise. Lambert was also able to take advantage of Valpak’s veterans incentive program, initiated last year. Valpak will waive startup fees for qualified, honorably discharged veterans. The savings amount can be up to $32,500.


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