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AHP Legislation Marked-up by House Panel

The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations marked up and passed H.R. 660, the Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003. The...
April 16, 2003

The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations marked up and passed H.R. 660, the Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003. The bill amends Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to improve access and choice for entrepreneurs with small businesses with respect to medical care for their employees. This is accomplished by extending ERISA to cover association health plans (AHPs).

Democrats offered a series of amendments to address their concern that AHPs would be exempt from state mandates. But Republicans, who argued that fewer mandates meant less cost and thus more people insured, defeated all of their amendments. The legislation was passed by the subcommittee by a vote of 13-8.  One Democrat, Representative Ed Case (D-Hawaii), supported passage. The full Committee is expected to take up this legislation in the near future.

What It Means to Agents:  The Subcommittee mark-up is the first step in the legislative process for AHP legislation.  There is still a long road ahead in both the House and Senate. This mark-up does, however, signal the beginning of the process. This is very critical, as Members are aware of the importance of this issue to the President. This mark-up could be a sign that this legislation is poised to move in the near future.

The legislation will likely pass the House with very little change. The battleground will be in the Senate. Republicans will need to convince a number of Democrats of the validity of the legislation. They must also prevent any Republican senators from voting no.

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