New Health Bill Creates Association Health Plans

February 11, 2003 ( - A group of more than 70 lawmakers has sponsored a bill to help provide health insurance to more Americans.

The Congressional group, which includes Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), put forward the Small Business Health Fairness Act (HR 660). The sponsors included more than a dozen Democrats. Boehner is chair of the House Education & the Workforce Committee.

According to a Boehner statement, the bill creates association health plans (AHPs), which allow small businesses to band together to buy health-care coverage. Many of the 41 million uninsured Americans now work for companies that can’t afford to buy worker health policies on their own.

The bill would increase small businesses’ bargaining power with health-care providers, give them freedom from costly state-mandated benefit packages, and lower their overhead costs by as much as 30%, according to the Boehner statement.

“Today we offer hope to the uninsured with a solution that can help millions of small business employees access the type of quality health insurance that their counterparts in large corporations and unions already enjoy,” Boehner said in the statement. “Association health plans will level the playing field and break down the barriers that prevent small businesses from providing health insurance.”