WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 Rising health care costs are the single biggest economic concern facing American businesses, according to a survey of business leaders released today by Business Forward.
Nearly 90% of those polled cite health care costs as a major concern, more than cite taxes, government regulation, labor costs or energy costs.
Without reform, 86% of those polled believe that health care costs will continue to rise in the next five years, and 55% believe it will go up "a lot." If costs continue to rise as expected, nearly 9 out of 10 business leaders expect to raise their employees' deductibles and copayments. Nearly 8 out of 10 expect to cut benefits. And nearly one in three expects to lay off employees.
"Year after year, business leaders have watched health care costs consume a larger part of their budgets and our economy, and they want action," said Business Forward Executive Director Jim Doyle. "This poll reminds us why it is so important for business leaders, trade groups, regulators, Congress and the President to stay at the negotiating table."
The poll, conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research in advance of President Obama's address to Congress, showed that 57% of business leaders believe health care reform should be an important government policy. They support key elements of a reform plan, including insurance exchange (78% favorable), efficiency reforms and an oversight commission (71%), requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions (79%) and a public health option (51%).
"At a time when many Americans are worried about partisanship on both sides, this support is significant, because it comes from a group -- business leaders -- that is disproportionately Republican," said Doyle.
The survey also indicates that the surge in interest among business leaders during the 2008 campaigns is likely to continue -- and it could have a big impact on Washington. One in three business leaders became more involved in the 2008 campaign than in previous campaigns, and nearly nine out of ten of those leaders expect to be even more involved in future campaigns.
Business Forward is a new organization dedicated to building business support for policies that promote America's economic competitiveness, particularly those that relate to health care, energy, the environment and education. Business Forward briefs business leaders on key issues, holds conferences and press events, issues policy briefings and engages in other public advocacy initiatives.
Methodology. Anzalone Liszt Research conducted n=800 live telephone interviews with U.S. business leaders. Interviews were conducted between August 19 and September 1, 2009. Respondents were selected at random, and represent 9 major sectors of the U.S. economy, covering 81% of national payroll according to 2007 NAICS data (construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, finance / insurance, healthcare / social assistance, professional / scientific / technical services, administrative support / waste management / remediation services, and accommodation / food services). Respondents are executive-level employees who are both knowledgeable about their company's healthcare costs, and involved in decision-making regarding their company's healthcare expenses. Respondents represent small (1-99 employees), medium (100-999) and large (1000+) firms. Expected margin of sampling error for these results is +/- 3.5% with a 95% confidence level.
About Anzalone Liszt Research
Anzalone Liszt Research is a public opinion research firm providing polling, qualitative research, and strategic consulting to a diverse national client base. Clients include President Barack Obama, two United States Senators, and nineteen Members of Congress, as well as major corporations, non-profits, and issue advocacy groups. Anzalone Liszt Research has studied healthcare issues from many perspectives, helping doctors, hospitals, nurses, businesses, and national advocacy organizations understand the country's healthcare landscape. Partners John Anzalone and Jeff Liszt have offices in Washington, D.C., and Montgomery, Alabama.
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SOURCE Business Forward