Obamacare to drive up the cost of Papa John’s pizza? Stephen Colbert says enough

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Papa John’s Pizza founder John Schnatter made a delivery on a shareholder call last week that has Stephen Colbert hotter than a pizza oven.

Schnatter, who happens to be a Mitt Romney supporter, says that the Affordable Health Care Act provisions that force him to make sure all his employees are insured will add an additional 11 to 14 cents to the cost of his company’s pies.

We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry. But our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare, he said. If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders best interests, Schnatter vowed according to a report in Politico.

The Politico post goes on to point out the history of pizza fights over health care and politics. In 1993, then-CEO of Little Caesars Herman Cain, himself a future presidential contender, took the fight to then-President Bill Clinton over his push for universal health care coverage, with Cain claiming such a move would lead to job elimination to cut costs.

Colbert took the notion to task on his Comedy Central show – and took some additional jabs at the general quality of Papa John’s pizzas. For their part, the chain released the following statement on its Facebook page:

There’s been a lot of buzz about some comments made recently by our founder regarding the potential impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on our business. We certainly understand the importance of healthcare to our customers, our employees, small business owners and their employees. As a publicly traded company, we were responding to a direct question from an analyst on our quarterly financial conference call about the anticipated costs of complying with the Act. When certain business costs increase – such as fuel, ingredients or employee healthcare – there is naturally an impact to the price of products and services. The vast majority of Papa John’s restaurants are owned by small business people, each of whom will be impacted in different ways by costs associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Papa John’s remains fully committed to providing our customers with better ingredients and better pizza at the best value.

The comments off that post are largely hammering Schnatter’s statement.

Meanwhile, Edward McClelland blogs for NBC’s Ward Room that this is nothing new. McClelland writes that fast food moguls tend to gravitate toward the Republican party, though often more because of social issues – Chick-fil-A, anyone?

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