The Small Business Health Care Plan, one of the top priorities during OIAs recent Capitol Summit (see BOSS_0618) and a key issue for the SGMA, was defeated in Congress last week. The Bill was proposed by Senator Enzi this year and allowed industry associations to pool their members together to reduce health insurance administrative expenses and increase bargaining power. The bill, S.1955 received 55 favorable votes, but needed 60 votes to ensure passage.
While various organizations and small business advocacy groups were clearly in favor of this legislation, powerful lobbying groups, like AARP and the American Diabetes Association were opposed. They argued that dozens of state laws that regulated insurance companies and guaranteed coverage for insulin or other medications could be weakened by this law. Opponents of the legislation argued that it would reduce the quality of insurance coverage and increase premiums for older and sicker insurance customers. It is also argued that S.1955 will allow insurance companies to “cherry pick” only healthy candidates for coverage.
However, millions of Americans who work for or own small businesses are currently completely without healthcare because it is simply too expensive. More than 60% of the uninsured either work for a small business or are dependent upon someone who does. According to a report by the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would mean an additional 600,000 workers with insurance coverage and reduced premiums for 75% of those now covered.
According to the bill itself, the “cherry picking” argument is simply false. S.1955 includes provisions specifically designed to prevent this from happening. Coverage under the Small Business Health Care Plans will be subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which makes it illegal to deny coverage to any person based on health status.