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Sen. Enzi Pledges to Try to Resurrect Failed AHP Bill

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) has pledged to keep pushing for a controversial bill that he contends would help make health insurance more affordable for small...
June 27, 2006

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) has pledged to keep pushing for a controversial bill that he contends would help make health insurance more affordable for small businesses.  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 Enzi and Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.).  Enzi said he currently is working with several Democratic senators on ways to "compromise a bit" on the bill's coverage mandates to ensure the measure will be able to overcome a filibuster challenge.

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.

What It Means to Agents:  Regardless of any attempts at "tweaking" this bill to win a few more votes, the fact remains that it would remove the regulatory authority of a wide swath of the health insurance market from the states, placing it instead with the federal government. PIA strongly opposes federal regulation of insurance and strongly supports state regulation of insurance.

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