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house Bill H.R. 1101

Should Small Businesses be Allowed to Form Associations for Buying Their Employees Health Insurance?

Argument in favor

Small businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating for quality, affordable health insurance to provide their employees. Allowing them to band together in association health plans would make getting health insurance coverage more economical for companies and their employees.

FumingMama's Opinion
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03/20/2017
Ok, but even better, how about a single-payer system so we can get business out of personal healthcare choices? #FeelTheBern
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Tafinzer's Opinion
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03/20/2017
There's absolutely no reason they should not be able to form group insurance buying associations. This only helps the employees and employers to save on health insurance.
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Jody's Opinion
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03/21/2017
As a lifelong small business owner this would greatly improve my ability to provide adequate and fairly priced coverage for myself and my employees.
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Argument opposed

This bill would leave small businesses and their workers vulnerable to unaffordable health insurance that offers fewer benefits. Association health plans may help the fortunate few who can join them pay less for health insurance, but everyone else who doesn’t join will have to pay more.

Fleur's Opinion
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03/20/2017
The devil is always in the details, this bill is being brought by Republican from Texas as "part of dismantling ACA." It's effect is aimed at ending ACA and minimal coverage requirements. The inter-state dimension gives more power to insurance companies to lessen competition.
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Lmb852's Opinion
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03/21/2017
If you out really want to help small businesses then we need to move to a single-payer system. Get the burden of health insurance off businesses all together.
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Joanne's Opinion
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03/20/2017
Important to read the fine print on this bill. This is part of the dismantling of the ACA We need to make the ACA better, improved not reinvent a broken wheel
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • The house Passed March 22nd, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 236 Yea / 175 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
    IntroducedFebruary 16th, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 1101?

This bill would allow small businesses to create association health plans (AHPs) so they can join together to increase their bargaining power in the health insurance marketplace and use that leverage to offer their employees more affordable healthcare coverage. AHPs could include businesses from different states, and they would be exempted from state-mandated benefit laws.

AHPs would need to be certified by the Dept. of Labor, which would create class certification systems for fully-insured association plans and for self-insured association plans. AHPs that also offer benefits that aren’t health insurance would be required to have reserves and stop-loss insurance to cover those benefits in addition to making contributions to a fund that would be used to pay for stop-loss insurance for AHPs that may not be able to pay out their claims. If an AHP doesn’t meet these requirements it would be subject to termination.

States would be able to tax contributions to AHPs under certain circumstances. However, states would be prohibited from barring health insurers from offering insurance through a certified AHP, or from blocking insurers from offering insurance of the same policy type to other employees that are eligible for coverage under AHPs.

Under current law, small businesses are prohibited from forming interstate associations to buy health insurance for their employees, which disadvantages them relative to large businesses and labor organizations because of their size and economies of scale.

Impact

Small businesses and their employees; association health plans (AHPs); and states.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1101

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) introduced this bill in the hope of completing another step in the process of replacing the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) with “patient-centered solutions,” in this case giving small businesses the ability to offer employees health insurance through association health plans (AHPs):

“Due to Obamacare’s burdensome and expensive regulations, fewer and fewer American small businesses can afford to offer health care coverage – which in turn hurts American families. A commonsense way to help empower these small businesses is to allow them to join together when shopping for health care plans.  This will allow them to have the same strength in numbers as large businesses and labor organizations.  And the benefits will be real for hardworking American families.”

House Democrats on the Education and Workforce Committee concluded their dissent against their bill in its committee report by noting that this bill would “erode the protections in the ACA” and expose small businesses and workers to what they view as lower quality insurance:

“Association health plans let the fortunate few form an association where they are able to pay less than average, but everyone else outside of the association will have to pay more. The Committee should protect the progress of the ACA and work to improve and expand coverage; the expansion of AHPs will only threaten affordable coverage for those outside of those associations.”

This legislation was passed by the House Education and Workforce Committee on a party-line, 22-17 vote with all Democrats opposed to it. It currently has the support of 37 cosponsors, all of whom are Republicans.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: La Citta Vita via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2017

Official Title

To amend title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to improve access and choice for entrepreneurs with small businesses with respect to medical care for their employees.

    Ok, but even better, how about a single-payer system so we can get business out of personal healthcare choices? #FeelTheBern
    Like (732)
    Follow
    Share
    The devil is always in the details, this bill is being brought by Republican from Texas as "part of dismantling ACA." It's effect is aimed at ending ACA and minimal coverage requirements. The inter-state dimension gives more power to insurance companies to lessen competition.
    Like (294)
    Follow
    Share
    If you out really want to help small businesses then we need to move to a single-payer system. Get the burden of health insurance off businesses all together.
    Like (279)
    Follow
    Share
    There's absolutely no reason they should not be able to form group insurance buying associations. This only helps the employees and employers to save on health insurance.
    Like (235)
    Follow
    Share
    Single payer is the best and most equitable way to deal with this. But seeing we aren't there yet, anything to preserve the effective parts of the ACA and fix the broken parts, is the way to go. This bill benefits insurance companies.
    Like (132)
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    Important to read the fine print on this bill. This is part of the dismantling of the ACA We need to make the ACA better, improved not reinvent a broken wheel
    Like (103)
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    We need a single payer system. We are the richest nation in the world but obviously not the smartest! Other countries have figured it out. They must not be governed by greedy bastards!
    Like (68)
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    "They would be exempted from state-mandated benefit laws." This is sabotaging important safeguards for mandatory minimum benefit requirements currently in place in the ACA. Such as: wellness exams and screenings without a need to meet deductible. Vaccine coverage without a need to meet deductible. Birth control -same, No exclusions for pre-existing conditions, no taxes on HSA accounts, etc. Also, as a small business office manager, I find the number of benefit plans just within the state mind staggering to sort through, compare and understand. What will happen to companies without lawyers on staff if they now have to sort through options throughout the country and find a decent plan to coordinate to join with other companies?
    Like (39)
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    Anything that supports the dismantling of the aca should be stopped
    Like (36)
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    Exempt from state benefit laws?? Just another way for small businesses to screw their employees
    Like (27)
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    Single payor insurance is the answer. The burden of insurance would be off the backs of employers, everyone would be on an even playing field and, finally, we would have some ability to bargain for reduced healthcare and prescription costs! The sooner we move in that direction, the better it will be for everyone!
    Like (21)
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    As a lifelong small business owner this would greatly improve my ability to provide adequate and fairly priced coverage for myself and my employees.
    Like (19)
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    Attack on ACA from the South...again.
    Like (17)
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    I do not support plans that don't abide by individual state mandated requirements. If we are allowing this plan, my fear will be that companies will set up in states with the least amount of coverage requirements to take advantage for their own bottom lines.
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    Another bill that looks good in the shower- but not in real life.
    Like (16)
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    My folks own a small business and provide health insurance for their 5 employees. Obamacare (ACA) is KILLING their business. My parents no longer buy insurance for themselves just so they can afford to continue to provide coverege for their employees. You must find a way to bring some relief to small business.
    Like (16)
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    I'm a small business owner and this legislation is crucial to my success. It gives me the same advantage as more established companies which allows me to compete and grow. Vote yes!
    Like (13)
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    We need medicare for all.
    Like (12)
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    The larger the number of employees to be covered, the better the negotiating power the small businesses will have. They would be more likely to negotiate better and cheaper coverage.
    Like (12)
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    Great idea in practice, poor execution as part of dismantling the ACA.
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