With thousands of Americans without sufficient insurance coverage, and health care costs escalating out of control, it's clear that some type of health care reform is necessary. But is it necessary at the cost of the construction industry? Legislators and labor unions blindsided the industry during the quiet of the holiday season by inserting an amendment into the Senate bill omitting construction firms from the small business exemption, which limits health insurance requirements to businesses employing more than 50 workers. As a result, construction companies with at least five employees and payroll of $250,000 would be required to offer insurance, or pay an excise tax of $750 per employee. What would possess legislators - and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), in particularÂ - to single out construction is a mystery. After touting construction as the key to bolstering U.S.Â economic recovery underÂ the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and proposing additional investment under a jobs creation package passed in the House, legislators areÂ proposing to penalize the very businesses they seek to save. Congressional leaders are now working to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the bills, making it critical that they hear your voice before it's too late. The Associated General Contractors of America makes it easy by offering a letter (http://www.bipac.net/issue_alert.asp?g=AGC&issue=merkley&parent=AGC) you can send out in its Legislative Action Center. For additional details about the Senate health care bill and its implications, visit http://www.forconstructionpros.com/online/Construction-Equipment-News/Contractors-get-late-health-break/38FCP14634.