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May 18, 2004
House Approves Association Health Plans

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.

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The news service notes that the legislation faces significant opposition in the Senate.

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.

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