State Attorneys General Oppose Association Health Plan Bill
Thirty-nine state attorneys general on Tuesday sent a letter to the Senate expressing their opposition to a bill proposed 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, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 4/26).
The bill (S 1955) would allow small businesses and trade associations to join together to offer group health coverage on a statewide or nationwide basis (California Healthline, 4/13). It also in certain circumstances would pre-empt state requirements on services that health insurance plans must cover, according to CongressDaily.
The attorneys general wrote, "Insurers of individual, small group and large group policies could ignore [state] requirements in favor of the bare-bones plans, subjecting consumers to reduced care and ever-increasing out-of-pocket expenses." The attorneys general said that the bill would exempt all insurance plans -- not just the new AHPs -- from state mandates (CongressDaily, 4/26).
The bill's opponents -- including AARP, the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association -- say it could result in worker discrimination and inadequate care for people with chronic diseases.
Supporters of the bill, such as the National Federation of Independent Business, say it would make health insurance more affordable for businesses.
Senate HELP committee spokesperson Craig Orfield said, "We're trying to provide small business with an opportunity to obtain better health insurance at more competitive rates without the burden of some of the regulatory mandates."
The Senate is expected to vote on Enzi's bill within two weeks (Appleby, USA Today, 4/26).