In a rush to pass a massive health care overhaul before Christmas, Senate Democrats have included a last-minute provision targeting the construction industry that is certain to derail the fragile housing recovery and threaten the solvency of countless small home building firms, according to a statement released yesterday by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Industry associations, such as the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) are opposed to the last minute amendment as well.

In order to find the 60 votes needed to pass health care reform, a provision was slipped into the health care bill that unfairly targets small construction industry firms by mandating that they provide health insurance if they employ more than five workers–the same mandate required for big businesses. Meanwhile, all other small businesses – with the exception of the construction industry — would be exempt from providing mandatory health coverage if they employ 50 workers or less, says the NAHB.

“The health care bills passed by the House and Senate will be severely detrimental to small window and door manufacturers and will prolong the recession,” says Rich Walker, AAMA president and CEO. “While the original intent of the legislation was laudable, the 2,000-plus pages are now fraught with provisions that will burden AAMA members and their customers with additional costs during this fragile recovery period. Our organization, on behalf of the fenestration industry, implores Congress to remove this provision that is entirely inconsistent with the requirements for other types of small businesses.”

“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,” adds NAHB Chairman Joe 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. We strongly urge the Senate to reconsider and pull this onerous provision that threatens the viability of small home builders across the nation.”

Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, also weighed in on the matter and had some harsh criticisms conerning what the effect this would have on an arleady struggling construction industry.

“Unconcerned that construction has endured more pain than any other sector, supporters of the Senate health care bill appear poised to exclude the industry from thoughtful measures designed to protect small businesses,” he says. “With construction unemployment already at 19.4 percent, nearly twice the national average and higher than any other category, the Senate’s decision couldn’t come at a worse time for contractors. It is impossible to understand the wisdom of singling out small, mostly family-owned construction firms even though the vast majority of them already provide comprehensive health insurance. If Washington was looking for a way to push more construction workers into unemployment lines, the late-night amendment to the health care ‘reform’ measure does just that.”

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2 Comments

  1. We need an all out push to our legislators. Set it up and send it out to all your subscribers.

  2. what happened? did a senator get a bad reno and decide to punish the entire industry?
    looks like the little guys will have to register another business and divide their business up so that each division is less than 5 employees.

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