Contract Glazing Industry Representatives Voice
Opinion on Health Care Legislation
January 14, 2010
A provision in the U.S. Senate's health care bill (known as the
Merkley Bill for Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore, who introduced it) has
been a concerning matter for many companies in the construction
industry, including glass shops and contract glazing firms. The
bill has generally required that businesses with at least 50 workers
provide insurance or pay a tax of $750 per worker. However, the
amendment would lower the threshold for construction firms to those
with at least five employees and $250,000 in payroll. In other words,
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 (CLICK
HERE for related article).
While the legislation passed the Senate Christmas Eve by a vote
of 60 to 39 and has gone on to conference with the House, it is
still a topic of concern for some in the construction industry.
In fact, a recent article in the Idaho Business Review said
"contractors are flabbergasted over a provision in the U.S.
Senate's version of the health care bill that singles out the construction
industry for a special rule." It goes on to say that supporters
of the bill "maintain that the true mom-and-pop construction
companies have fewer than five employees," so would not be
HERE to read the entire article).
But what do those in the contract glazing industry specifically
think of the legislation? Stuart Binstock, chief executive officer
of the Finishing Contractors Association (FCA), shared his thoughts
"FCA contractors, including our own glazing contractors, comprise
a substantial number of construction industry employers that do
the right thing-provide health care to their employees. Construction
companies, the majority of which employ fewer than 20 employees
that have been providing coverage, will be under significant pressure
to dump coverage, disrupting the care their employees receive, and
placing a greater financial burden on the government as a result,"
says Binstock. "Furthermore, the problem of uninsured workers
is the biggest driving force in the health care bill and therefore,
it does not make sense to exclude construction from the bill. Construction
is one of America's most dangerous industries, so it only makes
sense that its workers receive coverage. The Merkley bill would
ensure that more construction workers receive coverage, thus reducing
the current high rate of uninsurance in an industry that should
be increasing, rather than decreasing health insurance coverage."
Ed Zaucha, chief executive officer of contract glazing firm APG
- International, also shared his thoughts on the subject.
APG - International (like the majority of union construction
companies) provides full healthcare coverage for its employees.
We strongly believe that is the responsible thing to do. No employer,
regardless of how small, should be exempt. As an employer, accepting
a $750 fine would be a fraction of what we pay for our employee
healthcare coverage, says Zaucha. The problem of the
uninsured in the United States is pervasive and must be dealt with.
We should not have a health care bill with thousands of exceptions.
I strongly believe that health care in the United States must be
approached similarly to public education and that is that each community
has an obligation to make sure that every citizen is covered by
a basic healthcare coverage. Like public education, there are individuals
who would like something better and, accordingly, they should be
permitted to purchase better coverage (just like private education
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