Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler | Representing Southwest Washington's 3rd District

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U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Derek Kilmer Urge Support of Association Health Plans that Provide Coverage to 500,000 Washington Residents

Federal representatives send letter to Washington Insurance Commissioner Kreidler: protect popular health care options for small businesses

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Washington, DC, December 1, 2015 | comments
U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) sent a formal letter today urging Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to protect Association Health Plans for Washington’s small business employees.
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U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) sent a formal letter today urging Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to protect Association Health Plans for Washington’s small business employees. Association Health Plans allow small businesses to offer employees affordable health care options. Approximately 500,000 Washington residents are enrolled in Association Health Plans by their employer.

In their letter to Commissioner Kreidler, the representatives wrote: Small employers are a major driver of our economy.  According to the Small Business Administration, Washington’s small businesses employ 1.2 million – over half – of Washington’s private workforce.  In our tight labor market, small firms with fewer resources must compete with larger companies for talent and being able to offer a competitive benefit package is essential.  These employers are not mandated to offer health coverage but many of them do so voluntarily through Association Health Plans.  

The text of the letter follows, and a PDF of the original letter is available here:

Dear Commissioner Kreidler:

We are writing to express our support for Association Health Plans that have, for decades, provided high quality health care to hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians.  Association Health Plans allow small businesses to leverage their purchasing power to buy high quality and affordable health insurance in the large group market.  These plans provide small businesses and their employees the same opportunities to healthcare coverage as large corporations and help contain health care costs.

Small employers are a major driver of our economy.  According to the Small Business Administration, Washington’s small businesses employ 1.2 million – over half – of Washington’s private workforce.  In our tight labor market, small firms with fewer resources must compete with larger companies for talent and being able to offer a competitive benefit package is essential.  These employers are not mandated to offer health coverage but many of them do so voluntarily through Association Health Plans.  Additionally, association plans provide service and administrative support typically not available in the small group market which facilitates enrollment and access.

Allowable under federal and state law, Association Health Plans have been offered for decades.  Based on their popularity with small employers and enrollment figures, Washington’s fully-insured association plans have been particularly successful.  Figures from your office indicate that approximately 500,000 people are enrolled in Association Health Plans through their employer. 

Earlier this year constituents contacted us worried that they might lose their Association Health Plan coverage.   We hope recent decisions regarding plan ratings and multi-industry associations remove uncertainty for people who receive their coverage through associations and the small companies that employ them.

We should preserve bipartisan, commonsense insurance market options for small employers, notably including Association Health Plans.  It is in the best interest of the state that small businesses and their employees have a competitive, robust health insurance market to choose from.  We are encouraged that the continued importance of Association Health Plans has been reinforced in recent rulings and settlement orders which underscore the viability and need for this valued option for small employers and families

In order to reach our shared goals of better access for small employers, we encourage your support for Association Health Plans.

Sincerely,

Industry and small businesses have also voiced support for Association Health Plans:

“Association Health Plans are an important part of the health insurance market for small employers and need to be preserved,” said Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business. “We know that many of the employers and their employees covered by our Association Health Plans were previously uninsured. In fact, historically roughly 40 percent did not have prior coverage. And these are often the smallest of small businesses – the average employer size in our plan is just 7 employees.”

“The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) greatly appreciates Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler’s and Derek Kilmer’s efforts to support Association Health Plans, which enable small businesses to provide their employees with access to health insurance coverage for themselves and their families,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods. “Association Health Plans have proven effective in states all across the country, helping countless Americans secure quality, affordable health insurance.”

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