Chamber urges passage of the H.R. 525, the "Small Business Health Fairness Act"
March 16, 2005
The Honorable John Boehner
Chairman, House Education and the Workforce Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Mr. Chairman:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, urges passage of H.R. 525, the "Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2005," when it is considered by the House Education and the Workforce Committee. This legislation will expand the availability of health coverage for employees of America's small businesses by allowing employers to join together to buy health coverage under an Association Health Plan (AHP).
More than 45 million Americans currently lack health insurance and approximately 60% of the uninsured are small-business owners and their families or the employees of a small business. The "Small Business Health Fairness Act" extends the same advantages to small employers that are now enjoyed by large corporations and unions offering health coverage under federal law. H.R. 525 offers small businesses greater bargaining power, economies of scale, administrative efficiencies, and the benefits of a uniform regulatory structure. In fact, AHPs are fully subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requirements contained in ERISA that clearly prohibit discrimination based on health status.
We urge you to oppose any amendments that would weaken this legislation, particularly any amendments that would impose additional benefit mandates or regulatory requirements beyond those already contained in H.R. 525. Such amendments undermine the intent of the bill to help provide small businesses the ability to purchase affordable health coverage under a set of uniform standards.
Small business is the backbone of our nation and has driven much of the economic boom of the last decade and century. H.R. 525 is essential to improving access to health care coverage and making coverage affordable for small business employees and their families.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President
cc: Members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee