Now that the Supreme Court has definitely resolved the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), in NFIB v. Sebelius, significant implementation challenges remain. Along with the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion, on which the Court ruled, employer-based health insurance is critical to the goal of near-universal coverage. Close to half of all Americans receive their health insurance from an employer. But it is no small secret that employers maintain serious concerns about their ability to bear the ever-increasing cost of offering health care benefits, even before the ACA’s new burdens.
Employers United: An Empirical Analysis of Corporate Political Speech in The Wake of the Affordable Care Act, by an interdisciplinary team of researchers offers novel insights on the intersection of health care reform, securities regulation, corporate finance, and the First Amendment. This study dissects one novel corporate speech venue – namely, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure statements – which employers used immediately after the ACA’s enactment to prominently announce significant new costs imposed by the law. The Obama Administration quickly chastised these companies for filing “improper” SEC disclosures and unnecessarily alarming the public. To test the allegation that the disclosures were politically motivated, we conducted an in-depth, empirical study of all relevant SEC filings for the quarter following the ACA’s enactment. Our study reveals that, contrary to the Administration’s initial suggestion, the disclosures were not only proper but, in most cases, required. Any political statements were by the politicians, not the regulated firms.
Combining our expertise in health care law, accounting, finance, and taxation we offer a comprehensive, unique analysis of these issues. I am riding on the coattails of my co-authors, whose previous empirical study measuring corporate lobbying expenditures was widely publicized and cited by the Associated Press, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, Barron’s, MSNBC, The Washington Times, among other media and scholarly sources.