Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on Thursday said he will consider passing legislation allowing national association health plans as a way of helping small businesses afford health insurance. He made the statement during a committee hearing on the matter. While acknowledging support for AHPs, Enzi said he is mindful of concerns that such plans could result in "cherry-picking" of healthy patients and fracture the insurance market. But he said that against a backdrop of five years of double-digit premiums, "The one option I will not accept is doing nothing."
Managed-care plans are vehemently against such plans, which allow small business owners to band together to purchase health insurance. In testimony during the hearing, Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive officer of America's Health Insurance Plans, said health insurers have taken numerous steps to make health coverage more affordable for small businesses. Allowing the growth of AHPs, she said, would further drive up health costs through adverse selection. -- by Tony Fong