WASHINGTON — Today at 2:00 p.m., a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators will be joined by Labor Secretary Elaine Chao at a press conference to introduce legislation designed to increase access to health care for America’s small businesses.

The bill set to be introduced — called the “Small Business Health Fairness Act” — creates Association Health Plans (AHPs), which allow small businesses to band together through associations to purchase health care insurance at a lower cost.

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has called on Congress to take action to pass Association Health Plan legislation. ABC noted that it 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 the health insurance portion of its Association Health Plan when ABC’s insurance carrier terminated coverage because of incompatible and inconsistent state laws, making it too expensive to provide coverage, says the association.

Expected press conference participants include:

  • Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao;

  • Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman;

  • Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Employer-Employee Relations Subcommittee Chairman;

  • Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), Small Business Committee Chairman;

  • Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Small Business Committee Ranking Member;

  • Rep. Cal Dooley (D-Calif.);

  • Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R-Ky.);

  • Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.); and

  • Hector V. Barreto, Small Business Administration Administrator.

    Publication date: 02/10/2003