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Senate Bill Includes Health Insurance Plan Mandate for Construction Workers

A centerpiece of the Senate’s healthcare reform legislation is the creation of health insurance mandates. These provisions require employers with over a certain number of employees to either provide a health insurance plan to their staff or pay a fine. Under the current system, a majority of Americans receive health insurance through the firm they work for; reform in both the House of Representatives and the Senate includes federal subsidies to allow others to buy a health insurance plan themselves. Democratic legislators had to balance their goal of insuring as much of the country as possible with minimizing costs. In order to do so, they had to ensure that companies wouldn’t take advantage of the subsidized health insurance exchange markets and drop their existing coverage.

However, those crafting the bills have acknowledged that many small businesses are unable to afford a group health insurance plan for their workforce. Many of these businesses do not currently provide insurance. Therefore, businesses with under 50 employees are exempt from the $750 excise tax. This tax would otherwise be levied on a per-employee basis, if any full-time worker who used a federal subsidy to buy a health insurance plan. Right before the Senate version passed, a new exception was added into the mix.

Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley proposed an addition to protect construction workers. In the construction industry, the majority of firms are smaller than the general threshold: 90 percent of them employ fewer than 20 people. Merkley’s provision limits the exemption for the industry to businesses with under five employees. Contractors who use union labor, regardless of their size, must often spend anywhere from 12.5% to 20% of payroll on a health insurance plan for their workers. Meanwhile, non-union contractors have the option of forgoing health insurance–this allows them to low-ball bids, which supporters of the exception claim will result in an unfair competitive advantage. Employees with the latter firms would have gone uninsured in the past, whereas now the federal government would pick up the tab for subsidizing their health care.

Tradespeople employed by contractors risk their health at a higher rate than typical office workers in other industries. Workplace injuries are more common for plumbers, electricians, construction workers, roofers, carpenters, and those in similar professions. While workman’s compensation insurance is a legal requirement for these firms, it often does not cover the complete expense associated with overuse injuries and other health problems not directly associated with an on-the-job injury. A quality health insurance plan may make them more effective employees in the long run.

Of course, some associations representing the building trades, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Home Builders, are unhappy with the last minute insertion. They believe that the mandate will result in tens of thousands of jobs lost, at a time when the unemployment rate is over 10 percent. Although small businesses will be able to take advantage of two years’ tax credits for buying a health insurance plan, trade associations believe that the credits will be insufficient. Republican Senators are also opposed to what they feel is a high amount of “pork”, or sweetheart deals for certain districts in exchange for votes. The Merkeley provision was, in fact, one of those 11th-hour deals struck by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The House rejected a similar proposal during its own negotiations last fall. With a smaller majority, the Senate needed to shore up union lobbyist support. That constituency is increasingly concerned with the impact health care reform will have on their existing plans: by extending the length of time insurers must allow adult children to remain on a health insurance plan, as well as eliminating lifetime and annual limits on coverage, their costs will increase significantly. Labor unions also oppose the tax that the Senate plans to impose on the generous “Cadillac” insurance plans more prevalent among union workers. Democrats claim that such a tax is necessary in order to pay for part of the cost of healthcare reform. It remains to be seen if construction workers remain a special case when both chambers of Congress are finished combining their respective bills.

(Image: billjacobus1 under CC 2.0)

Yamileth Medina PhotoAbout Author
Yamileth Medina is an up and coming expert on Health Insurance and Healthcare Reform. She aims to help people realize that they can find a quality health insurance plan right now. Yamileth lives in Miami, FL.

Bill Gates- Construction: Fore Word March!- An Excerpt from The Great Pumpkin Letters

Bill Gates: Fore Word March- An Excerpt from The Great Pumpkin Letters

In this installment of The Great Pumpkin Letters, Chief Crazy Captain Christo is hedging his futures on one certain Bill Gates. For those of you who have been under a rock, (Plymouth), Bill Gates is extremely extraordinary. Not because he is a Billionaire or that his fledgling company Microsoft is pretty much everywhere. No the reason he is extremely extraordinary is because he still acts like a kid at heart. That is pretty amazing wouldn’t you say? So with that said, let’s join up with a conversation you probably didn’t even know existed. Here it is! The conversation piece between Chief Crazy Captain Christo and Bill Gates. ( Authors note: Chief Crazy Captain Christo for reasons only known to him refers to Bill Gates as Big A.

C.C.C.Christo-” Hey Big A. How’s backward Slash treatin ya?”

Big A– ” You mean Slash the guitar God?”

C.C.C.Christo-” Yeah I mean Saul Ash! How about paying attention Big A. I’ve got a job for you and I would like to see an idea of mine come to PASS. Please do me a Big Favor and bring some of your rock and roll buddies to a summit in July 2010. Please invite Slash the guitar God ( smirk guffaw) and let Slash invite 1000 of his rock and roll buddies who are serious about contributing to the WORTHIEST cause on the planet. Since this is a one time event, with a two year WINDOW of opportunity to get involved, please only invite committed people who love Halloween and The Great Pumpkin.

Big A-” You mean like KISS, SLIPKNOT, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society, Slayer, …….” Big A continued for another twenty minutes reeling off bands names until finally Chief Crazy Captain Christo could contain his laughter no longer. With a huge pumpkin clown grin, the Good Chief Crazy Captain Christo replied,

C.C.C.Christo– ” You got it Big A. And hey Big A. Here is the kicker. Please invite some people who know how to shape wood! I have a construction project with a rock and roll theme and I would like part of the construction project to use Ash wood. White or Black Ash it doesn’t matter. I have the designs all ready to be viewed and then bid on in a public setting. So if you could be so kind as to bring fore word your brilliant mind, we could get this party started. I will fill you in on July 9th, 2010.

See you there Big A.”

And with that being said , Chief Crazy Captain Christo varnished from the scene and left Big A muttering something like, ” Hey I wonder if Warren Buffett would be interested in getting together on July 9th 2010. It sure would beat our bridge outings. We could organize at the Qwest in Omaha and then …..wait oh how do I get a hold of that crazy guy and tell him that would be flippin awesome!”

Chief Crazy Captain Christo wondered if he had gotten through to Big A. After all, he forgot to mention that all this construction to rock the house will need some teamwork and Chief Crazy Captain Christo remembered that Big A retired! Oh well, he thought, maybe Slash will show up any way. The show must go on. The Great Pumpkin will rise!

What Big A didn’t realize was that C.C.C.Christo was just getting started with the plans. The monumental task of arranging the right people is staggering. Seven minutes had expired on the clock when all of a sudden Big A turned to see C.C.C.Christo standing before him with a Crazy Cat-like expression and a funny gleam in his eyes. Like fire from the Sun, the words hit Big A like a ton of bricks.

C.C.C.Christo-” Windows Seven is like what your kazillionth version of your Operating System?”

Big A-” Uhh, I stepped down remember. I no longer run the show at Microsoft”

C.C.C.Christo-” Great! Then you should have no problem helping me out here. Big A, here is what you could do to help out big time. Please get a hold of Warren Buffett and friends for a get together in Omaha. We could discuss plans to put together a Trillion dollar empire for kids. Instead of calling you Big A I think I will call you Billy Kids.

Big A:-“Whatever hahaha”

The two business entrepreneurs became lifelong friends although it is only a rumour. The biggest rumour that is emerging is the association of Bing and Cherry for a fantastic restaurant desert menu for Hell’s Kitchen. But that’s another mile down the road. Stay tuned! This has been another installment of The Great Pumpkin Letters. The author insists that if you know any person or band mentioned in this installment, to forward this to them. Full disclosure is required for the function of construction. Great Pumpkin rules!

About Author
Christo Strom is the website owner of He is currently working on a new site that will be a membership site for a new Art , Music and Movie Studio being built in July 2010

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