Survey: ACA rollout is unhealthy for manufacturers.

Skyrocketing health care costs and the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act are potentially unhealthy for manufacturers in the United States, a new survey by the National Association of Manufacturers/Industry Week reveals.

The top business challenge for manufacturers in the United States is the increase in health care costs, an issue that has ranked the highest in terms of primary challenges all year. Manufacturers also believe that fixing the long-term federal debt is a high policy priority.

“Costs and uncertainty are up, and manufacturers’ optimism is down thanks to the health care reform law,” said NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse. “The health care law has weighed heavily on manufacturers all year long – and their concerns are not going away. It is standing in the way of manufacturing growth by seriously limiting investment and job creation.”

The survey found that more than 77 percent of manufacturers identified rising health care and insurance costs as their most important challenges.

More than 90 percent of manufacturers stated that health insurance premiums had increased, and a significant portion, 58.6 percent, had to increase employee copays. Nearly 28 percent have reduced coverage and 17.6 percent have changed insurance providers to lower expenses.

The survey reveals that the ACA and its accompanying uncertainties extend beyond premium payments and impede manufacturers’ efforts to invest and grow. Nearly one-third said they had reduced their outlook for 2014, and 23.1 percent had reduced employment or stopped hiring. The survey said that 20.2 percent reduced or slowed down their business investment.

The second most pressing challenge was an unfavorable business climate, according to 76.1 percent of survey respondents. Respondents both this quarter and in previous iterations have mentioned the need for pro-growth policies, such as those laid out in the NAM’s Growth Agenda, NAM said. Federal policymakers will continue to have opportunities to implement a pro-growth agenda in the 2014 legislative year.

On the issue of fiscal spending, 86.3 percent of manufacturers want the president and Congress to find a long-term solution to the nation’s budgetary challenges.

The NAM/Industry Week survey included small, medium and large manufacturers. The survey and the NAM response were mentioned in IndustryWeek, The Hill, The Daily Caller, Politico, and Money News.

The Business Council of Alabama is the exclusive affiliate of the NAM in Alabama.

-Dana Beyerle