By Vicki Needham - 02/25/14 04:51 PM EST
Manufacturers on Tuesday warned that ObamaCare is putting millions of people at risk of losing their employer-based healthcare coverage.
Jay Timmons, the CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said that, while a majority of his member companies offer health insurance to their employees, ObamaCare is making it more expensive for them to offer those benefits.
“Ninety-seven percent of manufacturers offer health coverage to their employees, but the healthcare law threatens their ability to provide these benefits by forcing them into a one-size-fits-all system,” Timmons said during his annual State of Manufacturing address, which he delivered in Houston.
“I think it is pretty safe to say that healthcare reform is not living up to the hype,” he said.
Timmons said during the speech that more than 60 million Americans could lose their employer-based healthcare coverage over the next decade. The NAM later retracted that statement after reporters questioned the group’s interpretation of a Congressional Budget Office report.
NAM later explained that the figure is between 6 million and 7 million from 2016 through 2024.
Still, a broad swath of business groups, including the National Retail Federation, have warned that the requirements of ObamaCare could prompt them to drop coverage. Many groups are concerned about ObamaCare’s employer mandate, which, beginning in 2015, will require large companies to either offer healthcare coverage to employees or pay fines.
Timmons acknowledged that the old healthcare system was broken and already was pushing up costs for manufacturers, but said there is a different path toward getting to President Obama’s goal of providing more access and lower costs under his law.
“Manufacturers want to continue to provide good coverage but they’re worried about being driven out of market,” he told reporters on a conference call.
“We want to get conversations started but there is not a great excitement on Capitol Hill about doing that,” he said.
Timmons said lawmakers should bridge the partisan divide over ObamaCare and get to work on fixing the law.
“Cooler heads need to prevail, especially because no one is satisfied with how it was rolled out,” he said, adding that he hoped discussions would start sometime this year or early next year to “reform the reform.”
The healthcare law was designed to provide coverage to the estimated 50 million people in the country estimated to be lacking coverage, but the law is having a far-reaching impact on the nation’s healthcare system.
Timmons said that while the law isn’t supposed to affect manufacturers with fewer than 50 employees, Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton, Ohio, which has only 22 employees, saw a 21 percent increase in its healthcare costs last year.
The company is projecting a 91 percent surge in its healthcare costs this year.
Timmons said manufacturers aren’t sitting idly by, having offered up a slew of ways to make the much-needed changes to ensure businesses don’t have to give up their employer plans.
The NAM chief expressed concerns about $22.2 billion in additional fees and costs that will be implemented over the next three years to pay for the law.
“We need real solutions that bring down healthcare costs and give manufacturers and other employers a greater ability to plan for the future, and the NAM is aggressively working with policymakers to see how we change the law to lower costs and expand access to healthcare,” he said.
“It’s a long list. But let’s be clear — for America to maintain our mantle of economic leadership, we need policies at the federal level that help manufacturers seize the opportunities before us, not policies that hold us back.”