WASHINGTON — Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has urged passage of the association health plan (AHP) legislation being considered by the House Education and Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations, chaired by U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas). The Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003 (H.R. 660) is designed to allow small businesses to join together to purchase better health care plans 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,” said Kirk Pickerel, president and CEO of ABC. “We applaud Chairman Sam Johnson, for his principled leadership on this issue, and for his dedication to advocating legislation that will clear the way for America’s small businesses to help insure the millions currently in need of health insurance.

“Massive health insurance premium increases of 40 to 50 percent and higher are the reality for a number of small businesses in America today,” continued Pickerel. “This legislation is a major step toward addressing the health care crisis facing more than 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 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,” he added. “AHPs create much-needed competition in the insurance marketplace.”

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 plan when ABC’s insurance carrier terminated coverage because of incompatible and inconsistent state laws, making it too expensive to provide coverage.

“ABC appreciates the hard work of both Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson in support of association health plans and the passage of the Small Business Health Fairness Act,” said Pickerel. “Quick 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.”

Publication date: 04/14/2003