AARP Opposes Health Plan Legislation
AARP last week said it opposes a bill (S 1955) introduced by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) that would allow small businesses to form association health plans under certain conditions, The Hill reports (Young, The Hill, 4/12).
The bill, which was approved by the Senate HELP committee along party lines in March, would allow small businesses and trade associations to join together to offer group health coverage on a statewide or nationwide basis. The bill would allow supervision of the plans to remain with state officials rather than the Department of Labor.
In addition, while the bill would permit business and trade associations to pool their members independently, they would not be allowed to establish self-insured plans and would have to provide benefits through a fully funded plan (California Healthline, 3/16).
AARP in the past has not taken a strong stance in the debate over previous versions of the bill, but the group believes that Enzi's legislation puts the coverage of older workers at risk, David Certner, director of federal affairs for AARP, said.
Certner noted that the bill would allow insurers to offer plans that are exempt from state coverage mandates and other state laws prohibiting the exclusion of older and sicker workers from health plans. Because of these exemptions, insurers could charge older individuals higher premiums, possibly pricing them out of the market, or create a disincentive for employers considering hiring older workers, who typically use more health care services, Certner said.
"There's going to be winners and losers," he added, noting, "The impact tends to be on (the) older and sicker" (The Hill, 4/12).