WASHINGTON (Aug. 2, 2005) — As predicted, the House of Representatives approved legislation allowing the creation of Association Health Plans (AHPs) two days before its August recess.
Passed by a comfortable 263-165 margin, the bill would allow small businesses to band together under the banner of their professional associations to negotiate for health insurance policies across state lines, cutting the cost of their health insurance dramatically.
This marks the eighth time since 1995 that the House has passed AHP legislation. The Senate, however, has never acted on such a bill, because of fears it would abrogate states' rights to oversee their own insurance markets. The Tire Industry Association (TIA), the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) are among the many small business associations that have lobbied the Senate for passage of AHP legislation.
“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,” said Bob Redding, ASA Washington representative, in a press release.
Mr. Redding said that nothing has been scheduled in the Senate, though its Health and Small Business subcommittees are communicating more about the current bill than they have with previous AHP bills.
There was no immediate word on whether the Senate would consider its version of the bill after reconvening in September.
TIA officials were not available for comment.