WASHINGTON (Feb. 2, 2006) — The White House has once again endorsed the concept of Association Health Plans (AHPs), this time in its State of the Union agenda for 2006 that it listed on its Web site, www.whitehouse.gov.
“The administration will work to make it easier for small businesses to provide health care for their employees,” stated the Web site summary of the Bush administration's health care goals. It also said that President Bush called on Congress to pass AHP legislation, which would allow small business associations to pool their members and negotiate across state lines for affordable health insurance.
The day before President Bush's State of the Union address, Christopher J. Kersting, president and CEO of the Specialty Equipment Market Association, wrote the president urging him to make AHPs a top priority in the coming year. Though Mr. Bush's references to AHPs in his speech were oblique, SEMA is pleased that the administration continues to support AHP legislation, said Stuart Gosswein, SEMA director, federal government affairs.
But he also noted that the Senate has never approved an AHP bill, though the House has passed eight different versions of the legislation over the past decade. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is introducing his own variation on the House bill, “and we support that legislation as a mechanism to move AHPs forward in the Senate,” Mr. Gosswein said.