In an attempt to garner the votes needed to pass a massive health care overhaul before Christmas, Senate Democrats have included a last-minute provision targeting the construction industry that the National Association of Home Builders calls unfair
. The provision would require many small construction firms to provide health insurance to all employees, a requirement that the NAHB predicts would threaten the recovery of struggling home building firms.
Here’s our take on this breaking news:
• Under the provision, construction industry firms that employ more than five workers would be mandated to provide health insurance to all employees. This is the same mandate required for big businesses. However, all other small businesses, except the construction industry, would be exempt from providing health insurance if they employ 50 workers or less.
• Many home builders are small, private organizations working to survive the worst downturn in decades. The NAHB predicts this provision would force many small construction firms to close, eliminating jobs.
• Why is the Senate targeting the construction community? One possible reason is the industry's less-than-stellar track record with providing health insurance for employees. According to a study by the Center for American Progress, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 36.7 percent of workers in the construction industry received employer-sponsored health insurance in 2007, before the current recession hit. Since then, more than 385,000 construction workers have lost their employer-sponsored coverage.