Senator Opposes Association Health Plans

FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H., announced his opposition to association health plan (AHP) legislation, according to the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC).

In a letter to the editor of New Hampshire newspaper The Union Leader, Gregg said the danger of these plans is that insurers and businesses would be able to "cherry-pick" who they insure.

With that option, he fears they will cover only young, healthy employees, thus keeping down the cost of health insurance. Gregg said that he plans to offer his own alternative bill next year, aimed at making health insurance more affordable in the small group and individual markets.

The PHCC has lobbied against similar statements by explaining that it is illegal for association health plans to deny coverage to eligible participants based on the health status of an individual employer or employee.

During the House's consideration of AHP legislation in late May, PHCC targeted its advocacy on Democrats that previously supported the AHP legislation and on all other Democrats who originally opposed the measure. PHCC's approach will continue to focus on uncommitted Democrats, but will also target Republicans who have not currently co-sponsored the legislation.

The House of Representatives passed AHP legislation twice in the 108th Congress (H.R. 660, H.R. 4281). Senate companion legislation (S. 545) has stalled.

Publication date: 08/23/2004

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