by Chris Heaton - Vice President of Membership and Chapter Relations
‘Repeal and replace’ was a campaign promise from many (including the sitting President) for the looming failure of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka “Obamacare”, but as is usually the case, congressional leaders have not come up with a way to repeal or replace the ACA to date.
For those small group employers and sole proprietors who are finding their health insurance going up every year, there may now be a glimmer of hope.
S. 1818 by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) is titled the “Small Business Health Plans Act of 2017” and the concept behind this bill is receiving considerable attention from President Trump and others who are looking to break down some of the walls that contribute to rising insurance rates for small businesses. This bill, would provide multiple, unaffiliated small employers to pool their employees for the purpose of purchasing health insurance in the large group market.
This bill also provides for multistate participation so that employers and groups can join the large group plan from multiple states. A trade association that represents a group of small businesses may serve as a “Plan Sponsor” in this bill. The provisions require that any employer who is a member must be allowed to participate in the plan and that the rates offered to any employer may not vary based on health-status related factors of employees or their dependents (non-discriminatory).
While this bill was filed on September 14, 2017, there was already a great deal of discussion among members of Congress and President Trump on the concept of opening state borders for health insurance plans and allowing small employers to pool their employee groups in order to shop for better rates.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is a vocal proponent of this concept. "If [consumers] can join large groups, get protection and less expensive insurance...it will solve a lot of problems in the individual market," Paul said."1
There is also growing speculation that President Trump may issue an executive order to implement some form of Association Health Plan or Small Business Health Plan. If this does happen, we will be very tuned in to the details and how this could impact our members who struggle with finding affordable healthcare.