The restaurant association has signed on with Stop the HIT, a coalition of more than 30 organizations, including some heavy hitters like the NFIB and the US Chamber of Commerce, formed to repeal a tax on insurance companies called for by the ACA. The restaurant owners and other businesses fear that the tax—expected to raise some $87 billion over ten years to pay for the subsidies for the uninsured—will be passed on to them in the form of higher premiums for their workers. A hidden tax, they call it. So far, they’ve got more than 200 members of Congress to co-sponsor a bill that would repeal the tax. The press hs overlooked the ramifications of this.

As CJR reported last May, the group is also active in local communities, where it uses the local press to help spread its message to businesses in small towns across the country. That effort continues.

If the tax is repealed it could mean diminished subsidies for the uninsured—one of the pillars of the ACA. For instance, consider a family of four. Obamacare currently will help them—at least to some extent—if their income is 400 percent or less of the poverty level, or about $92,000. If this tax is repealed, help might instead be limited to 300 percent of the poverty level, or about $69,000 for a family of four.

Since so many restaurant workers are without health insurance coverage, this Papa John’s flap touches on their well-being in many ways. Schnatter talks about cuts in wages and hours. But repealing the tax and potentially threatening Obamacare subsides meant to help such employees get health insurance—that matters too.

Related reading:

How an anti-tax HIT squad employs the press


Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.