WASHINGTON, DC — In a rush to pass a massive health care overhaul before Christmas, Senate Democrats have included a last-minute provision targeting the construction industry that is certain to derail the fragile housing recovery and threaten the solvency of countless small home building firms, says the National Association of Home Builders.

"In order to find the 60 votes needed to pass health care reform, a provision was slipped into the health care bill that unfairly targets small construction industry firms by mandating that they provide health insurance if they employ more than five workers," NAHB said. "That is the same mandate required for big businesses. Meanwhile, 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.

"This narrow provision is an unprecedented assault on the construction industry and unjustly targets an industry trying to keep its doors open during the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression," said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a home builder from Tulsa, OK. "If this provision were to be enacted into law, it would prove to be catastrophic for the home building industry. In short, this is a true jobs killer. Thousands of small builder firms struggling to stay afloat could go under. We strongly urge the Senate to reconsider and pull this onerous provision that threatens the viability of small home builders across the nation."

NAHB is a Washington, DC-based trade association representing more than 200,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. It is affiliated with more than 800 state and local home builders associations around the country.

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