Restaurant Customers Say They’re Willing To Pay More To Keep Workers Healthy

By @TrishaMarczakMP |
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    (MintPress) – When Papa John’s declared its common-sense approach to dealing with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to cut back on full-time positions, the company was met with criticism, not only by employees, but by consumers.

    In the wake of announcements that fast-food chains like Papa John’s were cutting hours to work around federal health care mandates, a new poll indicates the majority of Americans are willing to pay more for their food to ensure workers keep their jobs — and their health.

    According to a recent Public Policy Polling survey, 54 percent of voters said they’d be willing to bear the brunt of increased costs at restaurants if it meant employees would get health insurance coverage — 30 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t be willing to make that sacrifice.

    Respondents to the poll also were identified along party lines.

    Democrats responded overwhelming in favor of paying more to ensure health coverage, with 72 percent claiming they’d accept a larger bill.

    More Republicans than not also claimed they’d be willing to hand over more, but with only 41 percent accepting that proposal — 38 percent say they would not be willing to do so.


    Restaurants fold in wake of public opinion

    The Public Policy Polling findings are in line to those released in December 2012, which indicated that companies who threatened to cut full-time positions to avoid providing health insurance were suffering in public opinion polls.

    Papa John’s, Applebee’s and Denny’s YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz scores, which measure public perception, dropped dramatically following the companies’ anti-ACA announcements. Other companies that announced similar measures included Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Jimmy John’s.

    In turn, companies began to change their tune.

    Darden Restaurants, the owners of Red Lobster and Olive Garden, initially came out against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), claiming business was suffering partially due to provisions that would require the company to provide health insurance to full-time employees.

    In response, Darden said it would cut hours of full-time employees to work around provisions that would require the company to provide such employees with health insurance coverage.

    Word regarding Darden’s statements spread throughout media outlets, negatively impacting the company’s bottom line in the long run.

    “Our outlook for the year also reflects the potential impact, though difficult to measure, of recent negative media coverage that focused on Darden within the full-service segment and how we might accommodate healthcare reform,” Darden’s CEO Clarence Otis said in a Dec. 4, 2012 press release.

    Papa John’s CEO, John Schnatter, also came out publicly regarding comments his company made, attempting to clarify his statements and promote his company’s image through a Huffington Post blog post.

    “Papa John’s, like most businesses, is still researching what the Affordable Care Act means to our operations. Regardless of the conclusion of our analysis, we will honor this law, as we do all laws, and continue to offer 100 percent of Papa John’s corporate employees and workers in company-owned stores health insurance as we have since the company was founded in 1984,” he wrote.

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