KFB Supports Association Health Plans

Posted on Sep 21, 2017

ACTION REQUEST:

Contact Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul immediately to include Association Health Plans in the Graham-Cassidy bill. You are asked to call both Senators at their Washington, D.C. office as well as regional offices.  Their contact information is below.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell

  • Washington: 202-224-2541
  • Louisville: 502-582-6304
  • Lexington: 859-224-8286
  • Fort Wright: 859-578-0188
  • London: 606-864-2026
  • Bowling Green: 270-781-1673
  • Paducah: 270-442-4554

Senator Rand Paul

  • Washington: 202-224-4343
  • Bowling Green: 270-782-8303
  • Louisville: 502-582-5341

KENTUCKY FARM BUREAU POLICY:

"We reaffirm our support for state and federal legislation that would increase the flexibility for individuals to benefit from Association Health Plans."

Kentucky Farm Bureau Association Health PlansBACKGROUND:

Health care reform is back on the Congressional docket.  The Senate Finance Committee will hold a Monday hearing on a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposal is authored by Senator Lindsay Graham (SC) and Senator Bill Cassidy (LA). The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee also has a hearing scheduled next week. If the bill can be passed by the end of FY 2017 (September 30), only 51 votes are needed using budget reconciliation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will vote on the bill next week.

IMPACT:

The Graham-Cassidy proposal primarily redirects ACA federal money currently being spent on Medicaid expansion, tax credits, cost-sharing reduction subsidies and basic health plan dollars to create block grants to fund state-designated health care reform programs. Also, included in the proposal:

  • Eliminates ACA Individual and Employer Mandates.
  • Gives states the ability to waive ACA premium rating rules, essential health benefits and medical loss ratio rebate requirements.
  • Protects patients with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Encourages use of Heath Saving Accounts by increasing the contribution limit.
  • Converts federal Medicaid funding to a per capita allotment and limits growth in federal Medicaid spending beginning in 2020.

Not included in the current proposal is language allowing for expansion of Association Health Plans (AHP) that would allow small business owners, including individuals who are self-employed, to pool together across state lines through their membership in a trade or professional association to purchase health coverage for their families and employees. 

The Graham-Cassidy bill provides an opportunity to repeal the Health Insurance Tax (HIT Tax), which increases health insurance costs for farmers and other small businesses by imposing a levy on the net premiums of health insurance companies.  This additional cost is passed on to consumers who obtain their health insurance through the fully insured market.

Late last week, Senator Mike Enzi (WY) introduced S. 1818, a bill that would allow small businesses to form AHPs.  The details for this bill have not been released, but Senator Enzi plans to have a congressional hearing on his bill in late October or early November.    

An amendment to allow the formation of AHPs was introduced when the Senate previously considered health care reform, but was ruled out of order under reconciliation rules.  As a result, an AHP amendment may be difficult during the current debate on health care reform. 

TALKING POINTS:

  • Health care reform is needed to address the availability and cost of health insurance.
  • Association Health Plans will allow small business and groups to form associations to increase choices in the health insurance market and reduce premiums through increased buying power.
  • The primary goal of health insurance reform is to reduce costs. Farm Bureau opposes the HIT Tax and supports its repeal.

Additional reference materials on health care reform can be found here at kyfb.com. For additional information, contact the Kentucky Farm Bureau Commodity Division at 502-495-7738 or by emailing Joe Cain at Joe.Cain@kyfb.com.

Tagged Post Topics Include: Affordable Care Act