NU Online News Service, Jan. 19, 2004, 4:52 p.m. EST – Associated Builders and Contractors, Washington, is hoping President Bush will discuss association health plans Tuesday during his State of the Union address.[@@]

The group, which represents construction companies and companies in related industries, says it will be making AHP experts available after the address to help reporters who have questions about the subject.

Bush recently mentioned the AHP concept while talking to a group of women business owners who were meeting at the U.S. Department of Commerce, the ABC says.

The most popular AHP proposals would exempt multistate health purchasing groups from all or most state oversight. Critics say a multistate AHP system would weaken state efforts to protect consumers, but advocates say multistate AHPs could increase members’ bargaining power and give the members the same freedom from red tape that large, multistate employers now enjoy.