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Letter to the Senate in Support of Retaining the Merkley Amendment

March 15, 2010

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we would like to express our strong support for the continued inclusion of the Merkley amendment on construction employers in the health care reform bill.  This important amendment would require that employers in the construction industry with over $250,000 in payroll and five or more workers offer health care insurance for their employees or pay a nominal penalty.

Construction is a physically demanding and high-risk industry.  In fact, the construction industry has the highest rate among all industries of non-fatal injuries and illnesses in the United States, exceeding all other high risk industries.  Uninsured construction workers are over-represented in emergency rooms across the country.  As a result, we all pay for their care.

The Merkley amendment is needed not only to ensure health care coverage for all workers, but to defray the cost to taxpayers, who have been paying for uninsured construction workers for years.
Because the amendment generates revenue for the federal government, its removal would increase the cost of the health care bill.

The Merkley amendment is already part of the Senate bill – a bill that passed with 60 votes.  The amendment is good public policy that protects workers, small businesses, and taxpayers.  We urge the Senate to retain the amendment as part of the health care bill. 

Kim Anderson   
Director of Government Relations