House Passes AHP Legislation to Make Health Care More Affordable, Accessible
July 26, 2005
Legislation cosponsored by Congressman Paul Ryan that would help more Americans access health insurance and make health coverage more affordable for small businesses passed the House of Representatives yesterday by a bipartisan vote of 263-165. The bill - H.R. 525, the Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2005 - would allow small businesses to join together through association health plans (AHPs) to purchase health insurance for their workers, increasing their bargaining power with benefit providers and lowering their costs in the process. It also provides self-employed people the opportunity to access AHPs and use group buying power to rein in health care costs.
"The rising cost of health insurance premiums is the number one problem facing many of Wisconsin's small businesses and their workers today," Ryan said. "Association health plans can help by letting small businesses and self-employed people band together to negotiate better rates and tap into the kind of volume discounts that large companies and trade unions already use to provide a broader selection of health benefits at lower cost. This will enable more businesses to offer health coverage and help uninsured working families get access to quality, affordable health care. AHPs are an important part of the solution to the current health care cost crisis."
Estimates indicate that 60 percent or more of the working uninsured work for or depend on small employers who lack the ability to provide health benefits for their workers.
The U.S. Secretary of Labor released a report in September 2002 showing AHP legislation would make quality health insurance more affordable and accessible for millions of small business owners and their employees. The Labor Department report cites a Congressional Budget Office analysis indicating that small businesses can expect to reap savings averaging nine to 25 percent of the cost of their health insurance premiums.