NRCA, NAHB upset with Senate health care bill
As Congress attempts to reconcile bills overhauling the U.S. health care industry, two construction associations are speaking out against last-minute changes to the Christmas Eve-passed Senate version.
The provision exempting small businesses with less than 50 workers from fines if they do not provide health insurance was altered so that most construction firms - but not other types of businesses - face penalties if they have five or more workers, according to statements by the National Association of Home Builders and National Roofing Contractors Association.
"NRCA is unaware of any justification for singling out construction firms from other employers with respect to health insurance benefits," said Bill Good, the NRCA's executive vice president. "Given that unemployment in our industry currently exceeds 18 percent, this provision is particularly ill-timed and could have devastating consequences for roofing contractors and their employees. It's simply outrageous.”
NAHB Chairman Joe Robson was similarly upset.
"This narrow provision is an unprecedented assault on the construction industry and unjustly targets an industry trying to keep its doors open during the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression," said Robson, a home builder from Tulsa, Okla. "If this provision were to be enacted into law, it would prove to be catastrophic for the home building industry. In short, this is a true jobs killer. Thousands of small builder firms struggling to stay afloat could go under.”
Congressional leaders hope to send a final bill to President Barack Obama by the end of January.