Health Care Negotiations Underway Behind Closed Doors – Construction Industry Still Targeted
Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate continue to
work out the differences in their respective health care bills. The House began
discussions with its members today and will receive a briefing from President
Obama next week; while Senate leaders are meeting with the president today.
The major issues of contention include the financing
mechanisms, costs and Medicaid expansion. The Senate provision on taxing
high-cost "Cadillac" plans is becoming a flashpoint and could be
replaced with an increase in the Medicare payroll tax. Other differences
include the effective date for many of the provisions (2013 in the House and 2014
in the Senate), and the difference between a national exchange in the House
bill rather than state-based ones in the Senate bill.
AGC is focusing on an amendment to the Senate bill that
specifically targets the construction industry by blocking only the
construction industry from the small business exemption. Recognizing the
complexity and costs associated with the mandates in the bill, Congress originally
exempted all businesses that employ less than 50 employees from the employer
Employers in the construction
industry only were singled out by the late amendment that requires them to
comply with the employer mandate once they have five employees and their
payroll reaches $250,000.
In addition to grassroots alerts in December, AGC today issued a call to action to the membership to
reach out to key Senators to remove this language from the final bill. AGC
opposes the amendment because it was never open to debate, was pushed by a small
employer group representing less than 3 percent of construction companies, it
differs from other employee and payroll thresholds elsewhere in the bill, as
well as other labor laws and regulations, and the unemployment rate in
construction is the highest of any industry.
In Washington, AGC is meeting with key Congressional offices
to voice the industry’s opposition to the amendment and to look toward health
care reform that contains costs, rather than shifts them. AGC has sent letters to Congress,
releases, and was quoted in national
publications on the impact of the legislation.
Please take a minute to call or write your elected officials
today through the AGC
Legislative Action Center.
For more information, contact Jeff Shoaf at email@example.com.
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