Some members of Congress still hope to find a way this term to help small businesses provide health coverage.
Senate Democrats recently succeeded at blocking S. 1955, a bill introduced by Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., that would have permitted small businesses to buy coverage through “small business health plans.”
Enzi responded to past proposals for creating self-insured “association health plans” by requiring that the SBHPs buy their coverage from state-regulated health insurers. But critics said other S. 1955 provisions would have created a federal health insurance regulatory system and all but eliminated the effect of state benefits mandates.
The bill also would have preempted state laws that limit how much insurers can vary premiums from one small business to another, critics said.
Reports are surfacing that the defeat of S. 1955 may increase support in the Senate for compromise legislation introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.
Snowe’s bill, S. 406, would leave coverage mandates intact in at least 26 states.