The Associated Builders and Contractors is supporting legislation it says would make health care cheaper for small businesses.

The Associated Builders and Contractors said it is working hard on Capitol Hill to ensure that the concerns of merit shop construction contractors are addressed in homeland security and association health plan (AHP) legislation.

, On the homeland security bill, ABC supports a version that does not include Davis-Bacon expansion language and that would give the president flexibility to respond to national security concerns quickly.

, ABC said that AHPs are critically important to addressing the nation's health care crisis. It sites new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau that say the number of uninsured Americans increased by 1.4 million in 2001. ABC officials say AHPs would allow small businesses, like contractors, to pool together and obtain more competitive health insurance rates for their employees.

, Congress has introduced and passed legislation that would permit AHPs. The U.S. House of Representatives passed health care reform legislation last year, the Bipartisan Patients Protection Act of 2001, which included an amendment allowing for the creation of AHPs. The Senate version of the bill did not include a counterpart amendment. Although President Bush has publicly stated his support for AHPs, efforts by the White House and the business community to persuade opponents to include an AHP provision in the final bill have failed. A conference committee has yet to be formed, and supporters of AHPs are considering other vehicles, such as an appropriations bill.