Posted on Mar 18, 2010
John M Grau
The time has come for us to take a final stand on health care legislation. We need to oppose the bill that’s on the table.
We tried to be supportive. We worked to shape the legislation into something acceptable. We championed the Merkley amendment which made the coverage mandates fairer for the construction industry. But the Merkley amendment is being stripped from the final legislation, and, in the final analysis, there is little for us to support.
The goal all along for business was to cut, or at least control, health care costs. The bill before us doesn’t do much to accomplish that.
It does, however, pile on a whole bunch of taxes that will be paid by small businesses and small business owners. It will be especially harmful to unionized electrical contractors who provide good health care benefits already. Their reward is an excise tax heaped on top of the cost of insurance.
In fact, I’ve often wondered why non-union construction groups oppose this health care bill. To my mind, it will raise their union competitors’ costs even more than their own. Seems like a built-in competitive advantage.
The sad thing is, health care reform IS needed. It has been said that the two things you don't want to see made are sausage and legislation. Well, it seems counterintuitive, but the “sausage” that could be produced by a true bipartisan effort would probably produce a better result. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like common sense will be one of the ingredients.
So, in the end, we are forced to oppose health care reform legislation and work for its defeat. In terms of what to do next, we need to get the right people elected to Congress and then work with them to get the right kind of health reform legislation passed.
NECA has a plan for that. It’s called ECPAC Victory 2010. We ask all our members to support this effort.