Wednesday, 31 August 2005 17:00

U.S. house passes association health plan bill

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow business association members to purchase health care plans at lower rates. Association Health Plan (AHP) legislation, H.R. 525, passed by a vote of 263-165. 

The AHP legislation will allow small businesses to band together to purchase health insurance for their employees at lower rates - a definite benefit for the collision industry. AHPs will be exempt from many state restrictions. Currently, associations may offer health plans to their members as a marketing tactic, but the plans are not true-large group plans and do not offer large-group rates.

The bill provides that only bona-fide business groups such as a chamber of commerce or a trade association can offer the plans; associations cannot be formed just to purchase the lower-cost health insurance.

"If you don't have health coverage, state mandates requiring health plans to offer specific benefits do you and your family no good at all," said U.S. Representative John Boehner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee.

H.R. 525 is similar to legislation that passed the House of Representatives in the last Congress. U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, chairperson of the Senate Small Business Committee, has introduced similar legislation, S. 406, but it has not seen action in the Senate to date.

"AHPs are supported by a number of trade associations under the Association Health Plan Coalition. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) has been an active member of the coalition for the last two Congresses. ASA believes the U.S. Senate is ripe for action on this bill," said Bob Redding, ASA's Washing-ton, D.C., representative. "We urge members of the U.S. Senate to pass AHP legislation, as many of the small business men and women we represent are increasingly having to reduce or give up health care coverage as a benefit to their employees."

Futher information about this legislation can be found at www.TakingtheHill.com.


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