Industryweek 2563 Obama Bill Signing

Health Care Ruling a Win for Obama -- But a Blow to Manufacturers?

June 28, 2012
The National Association of Manufacturers reiterated its opinion that Obamacare needs to be repealed, while one small manufacturer said the legislation will lower health care costs in the long run.

The U.S. Supreme Court's affirmation of the key provisions of President Obama's Affordable Care Act was met with disdain from Republicans, jubilation from Democrats and mixed reactions from the manufacturing community.

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons asserted that the key issue for U.S. manufacturers is lowering their health care costs, and Obama's sweeping health care mandate "did not address this issue and, in fact, will make matters worse."

"From the day it was passed, the Affordable Care Act did nothing to bring down health care costs, and it is essential that Congress repeal the law and replace it with reform that benefits manufacturers and their employees," Timmons said shortly after the ruling.

Timmons added that the association will continue to fight for lower health care costs by pushing Congress "to implement legal-liability reform, enhance competition by allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines, and increase the focus on preventive medicine."

On the other side of the ideological divide, U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., called the Supreme Court's decision "a huge victory for the American people, small businesses, women, children and seniors."

Wholeheartedly agreeing with Miller is Georgia Berner, president and CEO of Berner International Corp., a New Castle, Pa.-based manufacturer of air curtains and air doors for HVAC systems.

"It actually does not make sense to parcel out health care based on companies purchasing it and based on a company having responsibility for that," Berner told IndustryWeek. "That's not my business. My business is manufacturing. It is not health insurance any more than it is car insurance."

Meanwhile, the right-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce reiterated its position that Obamacare "is fundamentally flawed."

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue asserted that the Supreme Court's ruling only ratchets up the need "to enact true health care reform."

"Left unchanged, it will cost many Americans their employer-based health insurance, undermine job creation, and raise health care costs for all," Donohue said.

However, Berner, who provides 100% medical coverage for her 65 employees, said Obama's health care legislation actually will lower costs in the long run.

Among the reasons, Berner pointed to the cost of "having to annually take the time to review different [health-plan] proposals, negotiate them, set up the plan and then manage it."

"I'm sure if you're big enough that you don't notice it," Berner said. "We're not big enough to not notice it."

Berner, who has been president of the family-run manufacturing business since 1984, noted that she has encountered mixed opinions about Obamacare among other small-business owners.
"When people hear me say what I say about health care, they say, 'That's very noble of me,' or generous or something," Berner said. "And I say, 'No, actually it's not. It's very selfish.'

"I run a company that makes things, and I need healthy employees. It benefits all of us when people are healthy, and it benefits none of us when they're not."

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