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American Cancer Society Conducts Grassroots Campaign Against AHPs

With a vote expected this week in the Senate, Association Health Plans (AHPs) are drawing additional fire. The American Cancer Society, the American Association of...
May 2, 2006

With a vote expected this week in the Senate, Association Health Plans (AHPs) are drawing additional fire. The American Cancer Society, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the American Diabetes Association have joined together to defeat S. 1955, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act.

The Senate bill "could make health care coverage more expensive for sicker or older workers and could eliminate important health screenings for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening or chronic illnesses," the groups said.

The legislation would also pre-empt many state-mandated health benefits such as mammography, cancer screenings, emergency care, mental health services, and diabetic supplies and education, they said. By doing so, Congress would undercut the states' traditional role of regulating the business of insurance, the groups said.

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) has opposed AHPs and last week, 39 state Attorneys General sent a letter (PDF file) to the Senate expressing their opposition to the Enzi bill.

Many states require health insurers to cover specific diseases or treatments and forbid them from refusing to cover older or sicker people or from charging them higher premiums. Health plans sold under the Enzi bill would not have to follow those rules. Enzi's bill would also allow health-insurance companies to offer plans that are exempt from state laws to anyone, not just to small businesses buying coverage through associations.

David Certner, AARP's director of federal affairs, said that allowing insurers to charge higher premiums for older people would create an incentive for employers not to hire older workers, who tend to use more healthcare services. He suggested that the bill would sacrifice older workers in the service of helping younger small-business employees.

American Cancer Society Grassroots Alert: Tell Senators to Vote "No" on S. 1955

NCOIL Expresses Strong Opposition to Enzi Bill (3/7/06) (PDF file)

NAIC Alert - AHPs Are Bad for Consumers  (PDF file)

39 State AGs Oppose Enzi AHP Bill

National Association of State AGs Letter to Senate Opposing AHPs (full text, PDF file) 

AARP Opposes Enzi AHP Bill (The Hill 4/12/06)

What It Means to Agents:  Following passage in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in March, the PIA National Regulatory Affairs Committee (RAC) unanimously passed a motion recommending that the Federal Affairs Committee (FAC) monitor the progress of S. 1955. The bill is strongly opposed by many insurance groups because it actively undermines the principle of state regulation of insurance. PIA strongly supports state regulation of insurance.

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