Senate Republicans urge Trump Administration to expand access to lower-cost health insurance

Written by on June 18, 2018

Press Release –  U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyo., joined Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and 28 other Senate Republicans last week to urge the Trump Administration to expand access to lower-cost health insurance to potentially millions more Americans.

In a letter sent to the Department of Labor, the senators urged it to issue a final rule to expand Association Health Plans (AHPs) to allow more small employers and sole proprietors to band together to provide health coverage at lower prices. The senators wrote:

“A final regulation expanding access to AHPs could help three groups of Americans. First, it could help the 11 million Americans and their family members who are uninsured today because they work for a small employer or sole proprietorship that does not offer health insurance. Second, it could provide a new insurance option for the nine million Americans who purchase coverage in the individual market today without a subsidy under Obamacare and cannot afford the unsustainable rate increases that we have seen on the exchanges since the law took effect in 2014. Third, it could provide flexibility for a new insurance option for Americans who today have an offer of coverage through a small employer that does not meet their families’ needs.

“AHPs can help these Americans by providing a lower cost alternative with the same sort of consumer protections and tax breaks that apply to employees who receive health care insurance from large employers. Employer-provided coverage is approximately $5000 cheaper per policy for a family of four because of federal tax breaks. Furthermore, when sole proprietors and small businesses join together to purchase as a larger group, employers may reduce their administrative costs, bargain for better deals from insurance companies, and create stable risk pools with more people. These advantages bring down costs for everyone in the AHP.

“These plans also include the important patient protections that apply to the roughly 160 million Americans who receive coverage from large employers. An AHP cannot charge a patient a higher premium because they have a pre-existing health condition, deny coverage of a pre-existing health condition, cancel an employee’s plan because the employee gets sick or impose annual or lifetime limits on benefit coverage. An AHP must offer coverage to dependent children up to age 26, if dependent coverage is offered, and must cover preventive health services free of charge to the patient.”

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