A provision in the House version of health care reform legislation designed to help small businesses get health insurance would allow a federal agency to crowd out insurance agents, a producer group says.
The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, Alexandria, Va., said it fears the bill would allow the Small Business Administration to help businesses and individuals obtain affordable coverage, bypassing agents and brokers.
Under the bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, H.R. 3962, the SBA would design a healthcare insurance program for small businesses.
A bill provision, titled “Assistance for Small Employers,” is in essence a “navigators” program that drafters of health care reform promised would not be in the bill, according to Mike Becker, PIA national director of federal affairs.
A navigator is a government official who would help steer businesses and individuals toward an affordable health care plan.
Becker did say the PIA is “heartened” that the bill would allow insurance agents and brokers under state law to participate in providing coverage to individuals and employers in qualified health plans offered through insurance exchanges.
The PIA is concerned, however, about the SBA mandate, Becker said. It would give the SBA authority to provide educational activities to small businesses, which he described as a kind of navigators program.