While President Obama signed the health-care reform legislation into law at a jubilant White House ceremony on March 23, grim-faced Republicans geared up for a battle in the Senate over a “reconciliation” package that amends the bill just signed into law. Riding with that reconciliation measure is the fate of a provision that has divided the construction industry.
That provision, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), was in the Senate-passed version of the bill and thus is now law. It requires construction companies with more than five full-time employees and a payroll of $250,000 or more to offer health-care coverage to their workers or pay a penalty of $750 per employee. The threshold for other industries is 50 full-time workers.