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Lake Wylie businesswoman invited to White House for health care law discussion

The Affordable Care Act has been on Lake Wylie businesswoman Jennifer Maier’s mind a lot since the sweeping health care overhaul was signed into law four years ago this month.

On Tuesday, she will be voicing her concerns on the act at the White House during a briefing with senior Obama administration officials.

Maier, CEO of Clover-based Women’s Distribution Services, is among approximately 40 business leaders invited to the White House Business Council briefing. The aim of the event is to allow business heads such as CEOs and vice presidents, to detail how the Affordable Care Act is affecting their companies.

As an employer of about 95 people, Maier’s company will be subject to the new law’s “employer mandate.” Under that provision, owners of businesses with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees will have to offer workers health insurance or pay a fine.

Last month, in what became the latest delay for the rollout of the law’s mandates, the Obama administration said businesses with 50 to 99 employees have until 2016 to comply with the law instead of an earlier deadline of 2015. The administration also said the rules would be phased in for businesses that employ 100 or more people, allowing them to offer coverage to 70 percent of their employees in 2015 and 95 percent in 2016.

Maier said she already offers health care insurance to her employees, but she’s not sure how various requirements of the act’s new rules will ultimately affect her company. She said employers will face added costs because of the law, which she calls “just an extension of welfare.”

“Like a lot of people, I don’t think it’s going to be effective,” she said. “When government mandates businesses to do certain things, it never succeeds.”

She said the act has cost her about $5,000, paid to experts over the past six months to help her navigate the new rules.

A representative for Business Forward, a Washington, D.C., organization that helped organize the briefing, said Maier is one of three people from the Charlotte area who have been invited. The names of the other invitees have not been released.

Maier said she was among other businesspeople whose names Roz Lewis, president and CEO of the Greater Women’s Business Council, submitted to the White House when it was seeking attendees for the event. Maier said she was the only one chosen.

She said she learned the news last week.

“My first reaction was ‘Wow,’ ” she said.

She said she expects to speak openly to administration officials about her views on the act.

“I’ve never been known for my tact or being shy,” she said. “So I’m sure I will be heard.”

Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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