WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa joined Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming and a group of colleagues in introducing legislation to prevent thousands of people from losing their health care coverage after a federal judge struck down the Department of Labor’s Association Health Plans rule. This rule made it easier for small businesses to band together to provide their employees with comprehensive and affordable health insurance that has the same consumer protections that apply to large employer health plans. The legislation would ensure the pathway remains available for small businesses to offer Association Health Plans.
“It’s important to give people affordable options for health insurance.” Grassley said. “Small business owners, like farmers, want to be able to provide insurance for their employees. Association Health Plans are a way for these small businesses to band together to expand access to health insurance and drive down costs. This bill would guarantee that the pathway to affordable and accessible health care remains open to employees across America.”
Association Health Plans allow small businesses to join together to obtain affordable health insurance as though they were a single large employer. The coverage offered to association members is subject to the consumer protection requirements that apply to the nearly 160 million Americans who receive coverage from large employers.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 4 million people are expected to enroll in an Association Health Plan by 2023, including 400,000 who would otherwise be uninsured.
The legislation was also cosponsored by U.S. Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mike Braun of Indiana, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Martha McSally of Arizona, John Thune of South Dakota, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Tim Scott of South Carolina, David Perdue of Georgia, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Steve Daines of Montana.