HOUGHTON - U.S. Representative Dan Benishek, R-Iron Mountain, continued his tour of 100 businesses in 100 days Monday with several stops in Houghton and Hancock, including a stop for an exclusive interview with The Daily Mining Gazette.
During the interview, Benishek said he's heard from businesses so far during his tour - which is more than half complete - that regulations, tax concerns and health care costs are inhibiting small businesses from growing.
Health care has been a particularly big issue in light of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"Frankly, the health care ruling is bad for businesses, bad for patients," said Benishek, who was a doctor for 30 years before his first term in Congress. "It adds lots and lots of costs to health care and it doesn't really solve any of the problems."
Costs are the primary health care issue, according to Benishek, and the health care will also take $560 billion more out of Medicare.
"Our seniors depend on Medicare for their health care. ... They're concerned about it," said Benishek, who is on the Republican Doctors Caucus in the House of Representatives. "It's not going to make it easy for our local small hospitals to stay open."
Benishek also shared concerns about the health care act being a tax: "You're taxing someone for not having something they can't afford. How much sense does that make?"
He plans to work to repeal the act through the House, but he isn't optimistic about it passing unless the tide turns in November's election.
"It probably won't go through the Senate we have now nor will the president sign that, so basically it's going to be up to the American people come November to vote in representatives that reflect what they feel," said Benishek, who said about two-thirds of Americans are against the health care act.
The first-term Congressman also acknowledged that handling issues like health care and spending have been both challenging and frustrating in light of political partisanship, particularly in an election year.
"Being a physician you can make decisions and act on them, but in Congress it's a little more frustrating," said Benishek. "Some people are upset with me because I didn't get as much done as I'd like, and I'm frustrated, too.
"Cutting spending, for example. The reason I ran for Congress in the first place is because I don't want our children and grandchildren to be saddled with trillions of dollars in debt."