The House passed legislation that would allow small businesses to pool employees across state lines in Association Health Plans, a controversial model of health coverage that opponents contend would destabilize the insurance market. The vote was 252-162. Similar legislation passed the House last June but died in the Senate. President Bush and many business groups support AHPs as a way to reduce the number of uninsured by giving small businesses the size to buy insurance at lower rates or to self-insure. AHPs would be overseen by the U.S. Labor Department and exempt from state benefit mandates and guaranteed-issue laws. Insurance groups and at least one small-business coalition contend that as a result of those exemptions AHPs would ultimately raise costs in the traditional insurance market. -- by Tony Fong
House votes to allow association health plans
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