Papa John's founder responds to Obamacare 'miscommunication'

Nov. 21, 2012

Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter has penned a response to the controversy surrounding his comments about Obamacare; comments that set off a firestorm of pro/con arguments, a boycott threat, Internet memes and plenty of op-eds.

His response, titled "The Real Scoop on Papa John's and Obamacare," was published on the Huffington Post Tuesday and read, in part:

Many in the media reported that I said Papa John's is going to close stores and cut jobs because of Obamacare. I never said that. 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 ...

Clearly there was some misunderstanding somewhere. The remarks that generated the headlines were made during an entrepreneur class I was asked to speak to at a Florida college ... Here is the part of the interchange that was the genesis of the news:

Reporter: "Do you think your franchise owners ... are going to cut people (sic) hours back to make them part time instead of full time?"

Me: "Well, in Hawaii there is a form of the same kind of health insurance and that's what you do, you find loopholes to get around it. That's what they're going to do ... It's common sense. It's what I call lose-lose."

The reporter asked what I believed Papa John's franchisees would do in response to Obamacare, not what Papa John's would do ... 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.

Schnatter went on to say that the company is still figuring out how the Affordable Care Act will effect its operations and it will honor the law while offering 100 percent of corporate employees and company-owned store employees health insurance.

He also pointed out that, during his Florida engagement, he said it is "good news" that 100 percent of full-time workers will get health insurance and "we're all going to pay for it. There's nothing for free."

"And this way 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," he said.

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Topics: Insurance / Risk Management , Operations Management , Papa John's

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