Papa John's CEO: My Obamacare claims were twisted

NFL stars Peyton Manning (right), Jerome Bettis (left) and Papa John's Founder, Chairman and CEO John Schnatter enjoy Papa Johnâ??s pizza and Pepsi MAX during a recent commercial shoot at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. AP Images for Papa John's

Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter wrote Tuesday that the media had it all wrong in its reporting on his comments on how the national health care law known widely as "Obamacare" will negatively impact his business.

"Many in the media reported that I said Papa John's is going to close stores and cut jobs because of Obamacare," he wrote in the Huffington Post. "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."

Schnatter, who supported and fundraised for Mitt Romney in the presidential election, went on to say that while his company is still researching the impact of the law, "we will honor this law, as we do all laws, and continue to offer 100% of Papa John's corporate employees and workers in company-owned stores health insurance as we have since the company was founded in 1984."

Schnatter wrote that his remarks to a class at a Florida college were taken out of context. According to his telling, he was asked if franchise owners would cut back hours to make them part time in order to keep from having to provide health insurance. "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," he responded. "That's what they're going to do." He also called it "common sense" that some business owners would cut hours to avoid paying for health insurance.

Schnatter stressed Tuesday that he was taking about the actions he expects Papa John's franchisees to take, not the plans of his company. "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," he wrote. He also noted that he told the class that he was "cool with" more Americans getting health care and that under the health care law "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."

Not addressed in the post are Schnatter's reported comments on a conference call that "Our best estimate is that the Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis."

"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," he reportedly added.

Schnatter's comments prompted reports that some supporters of the health care law were vowing to no longer order food from Papa John's. A handful of business owners have said they have had to lay off workersbecause Mr. Obama was reelected. 

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