Legislative Update: Associations Health Plans
It's been a while since I provided members an update on Association Health Plan (AHP) legislation, so I thought I'd start the New Year right by passing along some positive news to you on this front.
Many of you may not have had the time to watch the State of the Union address last Tuesday night (don't worry, I fell asleep a little over half way through it), but the President did discuss one of his priorities which has the potential to benefit all of us. Fifty-one minutes into his speech, President Bush endorsed AHP legislation as a means of addressing the health care needs of one sector of the uninsured population. This may be just the impetus the Senate needs to push AHP legislation forward.
During the latter part of 2003, the Senate Republican Uninsured Task Force began looking at a number of options to provide health care benefits for the uninsured. Although AHP legislation was discussed by the Task Force, many of us had doubts about whether or not the group would agree to the inclusion of AHP legislation in a broader health insurance package. The AHP legislation is still opposed by the larger carriers, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield as well as some state insurance commissioners, both of whom carry a lot of weight in their home states. But now that the President has endorsed the proposal, MCAA and other members of the AHP coalition believe that greatly improves our chances of getting something accomplished this year. In fact, the day after the State of the Union address, Senator Bill Frist, Majority Leader and member of the Senate Republican Uninsured Task Force, mentioned AHPs as one solution to the problems of uninsured Americans on the Today Show. Getting the Majority Leader on board has been a tough assignment; let's just keep our fingers crossed that Senator Frist will turn his words into deeds.
These are significant developments and you can be sure that MCAA will continue to be proactive in securing Senate passage of this important legislation.
About the Author
Marian J. Marshall was the Director of Government Affairs for the Mason Contractors Association of America.