NU Online News Service, May 14, 2004, 6:02 p.m. EDT – The U.S. House has voted 252-162 for a bill that could create a national association health plan system.[@@]
The bill, H.R. 4281, would give small employers a legal right to join self-funded health plans run by national or multistate associations.
The House decided after it approved the AHP bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, to append it to another health insurance bill, H.R. 4279.
H.R. 4279 is a popular bill that would let employees contribute up to $500 in cash stranded in cafeteria plans and flexible spending accounts to health savings accounts.
Advocates of the association health plan concept, including President Bush and Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, say the association plans would give small employers the same freedom from costly state benefit mandates that large self-insured employers now enjoy.