The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation that would create
Association Health Plans (AHPs) for small businesses, Reuters reports. The House
voted 252-162 on Thursday in favor of the legislation, which would allow small
businesses to band together in nationwide health plans for greater leverage
in negotiating lower insurance rates.
The news service notes that the legislation faces significant opposition in
Supporters of the legislation, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, say
it will reduce the costs healthcare insurance among small businesses. Opponents,
including the National Governors Association, say the legislation would leave
more vulnerable people uninsured.
AHPs would be exempt from many state regulations. Critics worry that the quality
of insurance would dip without the state protections, which include requirements
that insurers cover mammograms, obstetrical care, and mental health treatment,
according to Reuters.
Proponents of AHPs argue the legislation would put small businesses on equal
footing with large corporations and unions.