Health Plans Legislation

    Bookseller's Healthcare Woes Garner National Spotlight

    As lawmakers in Congress continue the debate over how to solve the national healthcare crisis, the healthcare concerns of independent booksellers and small businesses are drawing the attention of the national media. On May 5, a front page article in the Business Section of the New York Times detailed the health insurance challenges and concerns of Jeff Levin, owner of Varney's Book Store in Manhattan, Kansas.

    ABA Meets With Congressional Staff to Discuss Small Business Health Coverage

    The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business tackled the issue of health insurance for small-business employees on Wednesday, March 14, at a hearing on "challenges and solutions" to health insurance coverage for small businesses. Oren Teicher, ABA COO, attended the morning hearings, which featured witnesses from the small business community, health care experts, and the insurance industry.

    Senate Committee Considers Health Care Costs for Small Businesses

    On February 13, Sen. John Kerry (D- MA) called a meeting of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship to evaluate the current health care landscape for small businesses. The hearing focused on available options, as well as Kerry's contention that there is a need to go beyond Association Health Plans (AHPs) as the sole solution to helping small firms cope with skyrocketing health care costs. In January, Kerry, who is chair of the committee, introduced the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Act (S.

    New Congress, Old Debate: Affordable Health Insurance for Small Businesses

    It may be a new year and a new Congress, but providing small businesses access to affordable health care remains a key issue for Capitol Hill lawmakers. Already this year, House Republicans made an unsuccessful attempt to bring Small Business Health Plans (SBHP) legislation to a vote; Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, convened a committee on health care policies; and Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) has holding discussions with Senate Democrats in an effort to finally get SBHP legislation passed.

    Frist Seeks Small Business Health Plan Vote This Month

    This week, Kaisernetwork.org's Capitol Hill Watch reported that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is hoping to hold a vote this month on a revised "Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act," S. 1955 -- a bill that would allow business and trade associations to pool their members to offer group health coverage through Small Business Health Plans (SBHPs, also known as Association Health Plans). The legislation, which was introduced by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY), is co-sponsored by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen.

    San Francisco to Pass Universal Health Care Legislation

    San Francisco recently joined the growing ranks of local jurisdictions creating new laws that seek to provide health care coverage for the uninsured. On Monday, August 7, it is expected that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will sign legislation that seeks to provide affordable health insurance to the city's approximately 82,000 uninsured adult residents.

    All ABA Members Asked to Participate in Legislative Day Follow-Up

    The American Booksellers Association is encouraging members who participated in its first-ever Legislative Day at BookExpo America, as well as those who did not, to follow up with their senators and representatives to encourage support for issues of import to independent booksellers. For those who met with their senators, representatives, or congressional staff, ABA suggests a note of thanks for the meeting would provide the perfect opportunity to reiterate their concerns.

    Enzi's Health Plan Legislation Blocked in Senate Vote

    Sen. Michael Enzi's (R-WY) attempt to push for a quick vote on The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act, S. 1955, was blocked Thursday, May 11, when the Senate voted 55 - 43 against cloture. According to the Los Angeles Times, Enzi said he would work with Senate Democrats to draft compromise legislation, which he would then reintroduce later in the year.

    Debate Heats Up Over Small Business Health Plans

    The debate over Small Business Health Plans (SBHP) legislation is heating up this week as the bill's proponents seek a quick vote and opponents look to block the bill, as reported by Reuters.

    Senate Vote on Small Business Health Plans Expected Next Week

    It is expected that next week the Senate will vote on The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (S. 1955), legislation sponsored by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) that would allow business and trade associations to pool their members to offer group health coverage through Small Business Health Plans (SBHP). The American Booksellers Association is encouraging its members to contact their senators to urge a vote in favor of the bill.

    Booksellers Urged to Action Re Small Business Health Plans

    On April 25, ABA COO Oren Teicher wrote booksellers and asked them to contact their senators and urge them to support "The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act," (S. 1955), legislation sponsored by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY). The legislation would allow business and trade associations to band their members together and offer group health coverage on a national or regional basis through Small Business Health Plans (SBHP, also known as Association Health Plans).

    Massachusetts Passes Health Care Reform

    It appears that supporters of health care reform finally have momentum on their side. The Senate is nearing a vote on Small Business Health Plans (also known as Associated Health Plans) legislation sometime in May [watch for an important update and a call to action in next week's BTW]; President Bush is touting Health Savings Accounts; and in Massachusetts, on April 12, Republican Gov. Mitt Romney signed a health insurance reform bill that seeks to make health insurance available to every resident of Massachusetts within the next three years.

    ASAE's Dawn Latham to Discuss AHPs at ABA Legislative Day

    This week, ABA announced that, at its first-ever Legislative Day', Dawn P. Latham, CAE, director of public policy, for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), will be on hand to provide attendees with an update on the current status of Association Health Plan (AHP) legislation in Congress. "'Small business health plans is such a critical issue," Latham said. "I look forward to meeting the members of ABA to discuss this important legislation."

    BTW News Briefs


    Senators Call for a Hearing on the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Project

    In a letter dated March 21, Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) called on the Senate Committee on Finance to hold a hearing on S. 2152 and S. 2153, their respective streamlined sales and use tax legislation, that was referred to the committee for review. The letter was sent to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), the Senate Committee on Finance chairman, and Max Baucus (D-MT), the committee's ranking minority member.

    Senate Stalemate Broken: AHP Legislation Approved by HELP Committee

    Ending a 15-year stalemate on Association Health Plan (AHP) legislation, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted in favor of "The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act," (S. 1955), which was introduced by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY). With the committee's approval, the bill can head to the Senate floor for debate.

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