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Jaime Herrera Beutler Strengthens Small Business Health Care Legislation by Protecting Association Health Plans in Washington State

Jaime successfully amends Small Business Health Fairness Act that’s part of health care replacement package; paves way for 400,000 Washingtonians currently covered by small business health plans to keep coverage

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Washington, DC, March 22, 2017 | comments
Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler’s effort to protect 400,000 Washingtonians’ small business-provided health plans via amendment to The Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R. 1101), was unanimously approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.
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Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler’s effort to protect 400,000 Washingtonians’ small business-provided health plans via amendment to The Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R. 1101), was unanimously approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.  Following approval of Jaime’s amendment, The Small Business Health Fairness Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

These small business health plans, known as Association Health Plans, are widely used in Washington and give small businesses a tool to voluntarily provide coverage to their employees that is otherwise accessible only to larger employers.  However, in Washington state the Office of the Insurance Commissioner has repeatedly sought to eliminate or restrict Association Health Plans, citing federal law for justification for its most recent effort where it attempted to reject 42 out of approximately 60 plans.

As part of its effort to reform health care across the country, the U.S. House of Representatives took up The Small Business Fairness Act to expand access to Association Health Plans.  This Association Health Plans bill allows small businesses that are part of a trade association to band together across state lines to increase their ability to purchase plans at better prices.  Jaime’s amendment clarifies that Association Health Plans that are already in place – like in Washington – may continue operating as they have in compliance with existing state and federal laws.

“Association Health Plans are powerful tools that equip small businesses in Washington to provide high quality, affordable health care to hundreds of thousands of people.  I want to allow more people to access this kind of health care, and that’s why I’m so pleased to have helped shape this bill,” said Jaime.

“Without Association Health Plans, small businesses that operate with few resources and thin profit margins are often unable provide the type of health care big corporations or labor unions do,” continued Jaime.  “This important solution puts small businesses on an equal playing field with those bigger employers in their efforts to attract and retain employees by offering quality, affordable health care. It also helps eliminate the tremendous uncertainty individuals, families and small businesses face when their health care plans are repeatedly threatened by state officials with other agendas.”

Jaime’s amendment and Association Health Plans are strongly supported by the nonpartisan Association of Washington Business – Washington’s largest statewide business association that represents 700,000 employees. Ninety percent of AWB’s members businesses employ fewer than 100 people, and more than half employ fewer than 10.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also supports this amendment.

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