WASHINGTON (May 17)—The Specialty Equipment Market Association sent a letter to all members of the Senate urging them to pass legislation allowing small-business associations to establish Association Health Plans for their members.
"Many small businesses can no longer afford skyrocketing health care premiums and workers and their families are joining the ranks of the uninsured," Corky Coker, SEMA president and president of Chattanooga, Tenn.-based specialty tire maker Coker Tire Co., said in the letter.
AHP legislation would allow small companies to band together across state lines under the aegis of their professional associations to bargain with insurers for health insurance—a right that large corporations and trade unions already have, a SEMA spokesman said. "The House passed AHP legislation last June, and passed it again (May 13) to emphasize the need," he said. "But the Senate has yet to act." Democrats, who dislike the AHP legislation's cancellation of state insurance regulations and consumer rights, are pushing—so far unsuccessfully—an alternative small employer plan that operates within state systems.