Papa John's Owner: Obamacare Statements Taken Out of Context

Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012 01:56 PM

By Stephen Feller

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John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s, wrote in an opinion piece on Huffington Post on Tuesday that he has no intention of closing stores or cutting jobs as a result of the Affordable Care Act not being repealed.

Schnatter said his comments were taken out of context while he was speaking to an entrepreneur class at an Edison State College campus near Naples, FL.

“I was asked to share my experience as an entrepreneur and to provide the students with real-life small business situations,” Schnatter wrote, suggesting that a reporter in the audience misunderstood the frank talk about running any business for plans of what he’ll do with his own.

In a conference call with Politico in August, Schnatter said he was not supportive of Obamacare because of the costs it would force on his company. He said, at the time, that he would have to raise the prices of pizza by 11 to 14 cents per pie, and possibly cut back on some employees hours.

While he does not deny those comments, he rebuts accusations that he announced plans to close stores and cut jobs as a result of ACA requirements.

“I never said that,” Schnatter wrote. “The fact is we are going to open over hundreds of stores this year and next and increase employment by over 5,000 jobs worldwide. And, we have no plans to cut team hours as a result of the Affordable Care Act.”

During the appearance at the class, Schnatter spoke frankly about businesses finding loopholes to get around requirements and regulations that they feel hurt their bottom line.

A reporter was asking him questions during the class, which he writes he didn’t know until later, so an exchange was taken out of context and widely reported, including him saying it was “common sense” that some businesses may cut hours so they don’t have meet requirements to offer certain employees health insurance.

He said, however, that he didn’t have control over what individual Papa John’s stores do because his business is made up of hundreds of individual franchises.

“Companies like Papa John's are largely a collection of small independent businesses,” Schnatter said. “The average Papa John's franchisee owns three to four stores. Since our franchisees own the restaurants they operate, who they hire, how many hours they give each employee and what they pay each employee is up to them, not me or Papa John's. Like any small business in these economic times, our franchisees are under a tremendous amount of pressure on costs.”

He wrote that, later in the interview, he also said it would be good that “100 pecent of the population is going to get health insurance” and “we’re all going to pay for it. Nothing is free.”

"And this way,” he added. “I get to provide health insurance and I'm not at a competitive disadvantage . . . our competitors are going to have to do the same thing."

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