HAMILTON, Ohio - House Speaker John Boehner met with local business owners Friday morning.
Boehner listened to their concerns for about an hour at United Performance Metals in Hamilton.
The 8th District Republican from West Chester says jobs need to be the focus of the presidential campaign so he wanted to hear from business owners about the challenges they face when it comes to growing the workforce.
Business owners in fields ranging from accounting to construction took turns sharing their struggles with the Congressman. Many said the uncertainty of the economy was making them reluctant to hire new employees. Others said the excess of frivolous lawsuits and medical malpractice suits were driving their costs up, and stopping them from hiring
The most discussed issue was healthcare, and employer provided benefits.
Laura Doerge-Roberts was one of two female business leaders among a crowd of dozens of men. She's the President of Vinyl Max Windows in Hamilton, which employs about 170 employees. She said it's been a 30 year tradition for her company to provide benefits to employees.
But Doerge-Roberts told Boehner under President Obama's healthcare plan, it's more attractive for her company to violate federal law and pay a $340,000 a year fine for not providing healthcare than to provide what she called the rising costs and decreasing benefits.
"It's important that employees and employers have the ability to choose benefit packages that are appropriate for employees. Without choice, theres a one size fits all package for everyone, and that's not necessarily appropriate," she said.
Boehner told her he thought President Obama's healthcare plan was "going to have a devastating impact on employers willingness to hire more people."
Doerge-Roberts said she was hoping to hear a plan for reduction in cost of healthcare benefits, but said she thinks Boehner "understands it's a process."
Several other business owners asked Boehner his thoughts on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and who he thought would be Romney's running mate.
Boehner repeatedly told the crowd, "Elections matter."
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