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Bush Administration Presents Proposal for Association Health Plans

The Bush Administration completed its rollout of a proposal that would let small businesses buy into group insurance provided by association health plans (AHPs), with...
March 10, 2003

The Bush Administration completed its rollout of a proposal that would let small businesses buy into group insurance provided by association health plans (AHPs), with the introduction of S. 545, the Small Business Health Fairness Act introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Earlier this year, Representative Ernie Fletcher (R-KY), introduced H.R. 660, the Small Business health fairness Act. President Bush says his plan would help extend coverage to the 41 million Americans who lack health insurance. A host of small business groups support the plan, but it is opposed by the National Governors Association. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) had objected to an AHP proposal advanced by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) because it repeated all the problems of ERISA without updating all the corrections that have gone on to ERISA programs. The NAIC still has concerns in this regard about President Bush's proposal, but less so than with the NFIB proposal.

"Exempting entities from state oversight would subject employers and consumers to increased fraud and plan failures," said Raymond C. Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association, in a letter to leaders of the House Small Business Committee.

A major component of the president's health care agenda, this issue is likely to see action in the near future. The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations has scheduled a hearing on H.R. 660 for later this week.

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