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November 22, 2004 7:17 AM CST

Election Results Bode Well for Passage of AHP Legislation in the Senate

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The results of the recent elections bode quite well for the outlook for Association Health Plan legislation in 2005. Below is a quick overview of the new members of Congress who could have an impact on the AHP legislation when it is reintroduced next year.

President Bush's reelection to the White House is certainly a plus, given his strong support for AHP legislation. Moreover, the President's unexpectedly strong showing in the popular vote should provide him with substantial political capital which he can use to pressure Senators who have thus far refused to support the AHP legislation.

In the Senate, the elections have improved the outlook for AHPs substantially. Republicans scored a net gain of 4 Senate seats, providing them with a 55-44-1 majority. Several of the incoming Senators have supported AHPs during their tenure in the House of Representatives, including Jim DeMint (R-SC); Johnny Isakson (R-GA); David Vitter (R-LA) and Richard Burr (R-NC). These new Senators, along with Senator-elect John Thune of South Dakota, may be just the right shot in the arm for passage of AHP legislation in that chamber. We are hopeful that two other Senators-elect, Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) will be persuaded to support this important health care initiative as well.

On the Democratic side, newly elected Senators Ken Salazar of Colorado and Barack Obama of Illinois seem to have an interest in addressing health care concerns so we are encouraged that they will be opened minded on this legislation.

The bottom line is that while there are still significant hurdles to overcome in the Senate, the election results reflect a more favorable climate for passage than any in recent memory.

In the House of Representatives, Republicans netted 3 new seats, thus bringing their majority to 231-201-1, with two seats in Louisiana still unresolved due to run-offs. This is the largest elected Republican House majority since 1946.

Congress will return for a post-election session on November 16 to finalize the work of the 108th Congress. The Senate is expected to make decisions on committee chairs during that week which should give us further insight into the prognosis for Association Health Plan legislation. I will provide members with further analysis in this regard in early December.

In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions or comments on this information or the elections generally.


About the Author

Marian J. Marshall was the Director of Government Affairs for the Mason Contractors Association of America.

 

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