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Enzi AHP Bill Defeated in Senate

On May 11, the U.S. Senate voted 55-43 to stop considering the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2006 (S. 1955), which was...
May 17, 2006

On May 11, the U.S. Senate voted 55-43 to stop considering the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2006 (S. 1955), which was introduced last year by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and co-sponsored by Ben Nelson, (D-Neb.) and Conrad Burns, (R-Mont.).

The bill would have allowed private insurers to bypass state regulations requiring coverage of things such as preventive cancer screenings, mental health care, diabetes supplies and routine women's health care. It also would have allowed insurance companies and small businesses to vary health insurance premiums for individuals and small businesses by preempting state insurance laws.

The proposal proved divisive. It garnered support from small business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Association of Realtors.  Opponents included the American Cancer Society, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the American Diabetes Association. In addition, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) and 39 state attorneys general actively campaigned against the bill. Critics said it would have tried to help younger, healthier workers by making coverage less available and affordable to older workers.

"AARP commends Senators Mike Enzi and Ben Nelson for searching for ways to help small businesses afford important health-care coverage for their employees," said AARP CEO Bill Novelli. "But while we look for ways to address the problem of affordable health care, we should not help one group of people at the expense of others."

What It Means to Agents:  A bill that would have actively undermined the principle of state regulation of insurance has been turned back. S. 1955 would have removed regulatory authority of a wide swath of the health insurance market from the states, placing it instead with the federal government. PIA strongly supports state regulation of insurance.

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