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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida restaurants charge customers Obamacare fee



WKMG Channel 6 in Orlando reports that some Gator's Dockside restaurants are charging customers an Obamacare surcharge, news that national Republicans picked up on today to make a point about the law's effect on businesses.

But what is not mentioned by the TV reporter is the mandate for small businesses has been delayed until January 2015.

Sandra Clark, director of operations for the restaurant group, acknowledged that in a telephone interview with the Tampa Bay Times. But she said the company has already had to meet compliance mandates and plans to offer health care to all full-time employees in December.

"Unfortunately affordable health care doesn't come free," Clark said. She said the company, which employs 500 people, did not want to cut workers hours to avoid the mandate. "I know our employees. I know their families ... I can't imagine changing that."

The penny on the dollar surcharge wasn't supposed to be political statement, she said. "It really was about following the law." She estimated extending health care would cost about $500,000. "Am I upset about it? I can't say that I am or not. It is the law of the land now. The time for politics was before it became law."

While there are 21 Gator's Dockside restaurants in Florida, Clark's group owns only nine. Others said they would not charge a health care fee.

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[Last modified: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 5:23pm]


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