Obamacare uncertainty harming economic rebound, CEOs say

Uncertain corporate costs for President Barack Obama’s health care reform law and other regulations continue to stymie U.S. employment and capital spending, business leaders said Wednesday.

Roughly 39 percent of U.S. chief executives cited regulatory costs as their top concern for the next six months, according to a survey released by the Business Roundtable, a confederation of top U.S. companies.

The group said uneven implementation of the health care law, commonly known as Obamacare, has made it tough for businesses to decide where to allocate capital for new construction or hiring. “There seems to be an exception every other day on the Affordable Care Act,” Jim McNerney, head of the Business Roundtable and chief executive of The Boeing Co , said in a conference call Wednesday. “Is your preferred constituency going to get an exception or not? It’s hard to know, so people respond by hedging investment and hedging employment.”

Parts of the law requiring employers to provide health care for their workers was delayed earlier this fall until 2015 by the White House, though it remains unclear if that will be made permanent.

Broadly, U.S. companies remain concerned about taxes on so-called “Cadillac” health care plans, premium plans that many offer to employees, as well as efforts to cut costs of medical services, which could boost insurance premium costs for companies and employees, McNerney said.

Beyond Obamacare, U.S. CEOs believe the economy is modestly improving, with sales, capital spending and hiring all expected to rise in the next six months.