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Action Alert: Construction Industry Unfairly Excluded From Small-business Exemption in Senate Health Care Reform Bill; Contact Your Senators and/or Representatives Immediately (Members Only)

Jan. 18, 2010

Congressional leaders and President Obama are negotiating differences between House and Senate health care reform bills passed late in 2009 in an effort to get a final bill that can be sent to Obama to be signed into law. NRCA urges all members to immediately contact their members of Congress to register strong opposition to a provision in the Senate version of the bill that excludes the construction industry from a key small-business exemption.

H.R. 3590, the health care reform bill passed by the Senate Dec. 24, 2009, exempts employers with fewer than 50 employees from penalties if they cannot afford to provide employees with government-approved health benefits with one exception. A provision inserted Dec. 19, 2009, by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) alters this small-business exemption so it applies to only those construction firms with fewer than five employees or less than $250,000 in annual payroll expenses. If this policy is included in the final health care reform bill, all construction industry firms with five or more employees and more than $250,000 in annual payroll expenses will be newly mandated to provide government-approved health care benefits to their employees or face substantial financial penalties.

Contact your senators and representatives to urge them to oppose the provision to exclude the construction industry from the small-business exemption in H.R. 3950 because:
  • It unfairly singles out construction firms for harsher treatment than employers in other industries.

  • It will likely exacerbate unemployment in the construction industry, which already exceeds 22 percent.

  • There is no justification for treating small businesses in the construction industry differently from small firms in other industries regarding health care benefits.

  • Construction employers already provide workers' compensation insurance that covers all workplace injuries, illnesses and lost wages with no deductibles, co-pays or limits.

  • Any policy change of this magnitude should be given careful consideration via the normal legislative process, including hearings, rather than slipped into a 2,000-page bill late in the process.

Contact your senators and/or representatives by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and asking for the lawmaker's office. Use the talking points in your conversation with the staff answering the telephone, and provide your name and address. You also may contact members of Congress by e-mail or fax or by going to their Web sites, which can be found at www.senate.gov and www.house.gov. You can use the bullet points in your e-mail or fax.

For more information, questions or to report on contacts with members of Congress, please contact Duane Musser, NRCA's vice president of government relations, at (202) 546-7584 or dmusser@nrca.net. Thank you!

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