(CNSNews.com) - "Perhaps perhaps no issue gives manufacturers more heartburn than health care," the head of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) told a gathering in Houston on Tuesday.
"If we don’t do something to fix the law, between six and seven million fewer American workers will have employer-sponsored coverage over the next 10 years. That will be the new reality for our workforce," said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.
"The law, as implemented, will hurt manufacturers and their employees. Take, for instance, what you are facing in additional fees and costs over the next three years: $22.2 billion. That figure is simply added cost -- it won’t get that mom on your assembly line one more pediatrician visit or one more prescription filled for your shop floor manager’s family."
Timmons said 97 percent of manufacturers offer health coverage to their employees, but the health care law threatens their ability to provide those benefits by forcing them into a one-size-fits-all system.
Although the law is not supposed to affect companies with fewer than 50 employees, that is not the case, Timmons said.
He mentioned Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton, Ohio, which has 22 employees. Its health care costs increased 21 percent last year -- and it anticipates a 91-percent increase this year. Timmons quoted Staub's president as saying, "The Affordable Care Act is far from affordable."
"We need real solutions that bring down health care 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 health care," Timmons said.
President Obama also talked about manufacturing -- and the Affordable Care Act -- in separate speeches on Tuesday.
The president told a gathering at the White House what he's doing "to put America at the forefront of 21st Century manufacturing."
"Already my administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing," Obama said. Then he announced that he plans to launch two more hubs -- one in the Detroit area and another in Chicago, the president's adopted hometown.
Obama described the hubs as "partnerships that bring together companies and universities to develop cutting-edge technology, train workers to use that technology, and then make sure that the research is translated into real-world products made by American workers."
The president noted that Germany has 60 such hubs. "So we can't let Germany have 60 and us have four. We got to do better."
Later on Tuesday, in speech to the liberal group Organizing for Action, President Obama said 4 million Americans have signed up for health care through the new marketplace exchanges. (That number doesn't reflect how many people had insurance previously, nor does it mean that all 4 million have paid their premiums. And it falls short of the previously announced goal of 7 million by the end of March.)
"The fact is that we want everybody covered, not just some," Obama said. He urged the activists to help the administration boost enrollment:
"What you need to do is continue what you're doing and reach out with your teams in your respective cities, states, towns and counties -- because right now, we've only got a few weeks left. March 31st -- that's the last call.
"If folks aren't signed up by March 31, they can't sign up again until the next open-enrollment period with the 2015 rates. So if they want health insurance now, they need to sign up now, and we're going to make a big push these last few weeks."
The Health and Human Services Department will release its next Obamacare enrollment report for February in mid-March.