ABC Advocates Assoc. Health Care Plan Legislation

February 11, 2003

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has voiced its strong support for legislation to ensure that association health plans (AHPs) are a viable option for America’s businesses and workers. The Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003, H.R. 660, will reportedly allow small businesses to join together to purchase quality healthcare at lower costs through federally certified AHPs.

“ABC strongly supports the Small Business Health Fairness Act that will regulate AHPs under a single set of federally prescribed rules, rather than a patchwork of inconsistent and costly state rules and regulations,” Kirk Pickerel, ABC president and CEO, said. “ABC has offered health insurance benefits for association members for more than 45 years, and our experience is proof that association health plans are a great solution to the health care needs of America’s small businesses and their employees. AHPs allow small businesses to join together to create economies of scale in healthcare purchasing, and AHPs create much needed competition in the insurance marketplace.”

ABC established an association health benefits plan in 1957 and through the years offered traditional health insurance plans, HMOs and PPOs to its members, many of whom were small business owners who would otherwise not be able to afford health insurance coverage for their employees. In 2001, ABC was forced to discontinue its health insurance portion of its AHP when ABC’s insurance carrier terminated coverage because of incompatible and inconsistent state laws, making it too expensive to provide coverage.

“Massive health insurance premium increases of 40 to 50 percent and higher are the reality for a number of small businesses in America today,” Pickerel continued. “This legislation is a major step toward addressing the health care crisis facing more the 41 million Americans who are currently uninsured. Association health plans can reduce health insurance costs by 15 percent or more by allowing small businesses to join together to create economies of scale and bargaining clout.

“ABC applauds the Bush Administration and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao for leadership in supporting association health plans and the passage of the Small Business Health Fairness Act. Congressional passage of this legislation will advance the president’s goal of strengthening America’s health care system and ensuring that American workers receive the cost- effective, high-quality health care coverage they deserve.”

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