WASHINGTON (March 17, 2005) — The House Education and Workforce Committee has approved a bill to establish Association Health Plans by a 25-22 vote.
The bill would allow small businesses to go through their trade and professional associations and pool their memberships across state lines to negotiate for health insurance. The bill will not only increase their bargaining power, according to the Automotive Service Association, but also free them from state-mandated insurance packages and lower their overhead costs by 30 percent.
“Obviously we're thrilled by the committee vote, though it's not really surprising since it's happened seven times before,” said Becky MacDicken, government affairs director for the Tire Industry Association. Ms. MacDicken said she expected the bill to reach the House floor within the next month.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, has introduced the AHP legislation in the Senate; although the bill has never passed the Senate, TIA believes that body will approve it in this Congress, Ms. MacDicken said.