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WOODBRIDGE, VIRGINIA (WUSA)--Small business owners who employ more than 50 full-time workerswill now need to provide affordable health benefits to their employees.

Bob Patten, who runs an accounting firm, several day care centers and a Christian school, was stunned.

"I was shocked," he said. "I was absolutely shocked. I did not think the Supreme Court would uphold the fact that the federal government can force us to buy something."

Patten's surprise was quickly replaced by uncertainty over how to handle the rising cost of insuring his 120 employees.

"I don't know yet. Will it be cut hours? Cut salaries? Cut hourly rates? Cut people? Not sure yet," he said.

"We absolutely need healthcare," said Charles Bennett."I do believe we somehow need to insure as many people as we can. However, how we get there I think is a real debate."

In just one Woodbridge office building, reaction to the Supreme Court decision was varied.

"I don't think it should be mandated. I don't think it's necessary that a small business owner should have to provide healthcare, although a lot of us struggle to get that," said worker Sharon Jenkins of Dumfries.

"Somebody has to do it. If somebody can't afford insurance, the small business has to take a little bit more responsibilities. But it should be shared at the end," said Mark Halabi of Vienna.

Whether the costs are shared or not, small businesses have until 2014 to comply with the ruling or face a fine of up to two thousand dollars for each employee.

Not every small business owner is opposed to the Affordable Care Act. The group called the Small Business Majority praised it, saying it will significantly rein in costs and provide more health coverage options for entrepreneurs.

Written by Andrea McCarren

9 NEWS NOW & WUSA9.COM

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