Chamber Pursuing Association Health Plan for Small Businesses
The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce is exploring the possibility of offering new health insurance plan options to our small business members, made possible by Association Health Plan rules issued by the U.S. Department of Labor last month. Under the new rules, small businesses can enjoy the flexibility that large businesses have under the Affordable Care Act by pooling together. Until now, small businesses have been under more stringent Affordable Care Act regulations than large businesses.
The opportunity for this new flexibility is due to an Executive Order issued last fall by the White House that allows for the creation of Association Health Plans for small employers with 50 or fewer employees.
The Chamber provided detailed input to the U.S. Department of Labor on Association Health Plan regulations earlier this year on behalf of our members, and in May we traveled to Washington D.C. to discuss the importance of this issue for our members with Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz as well as Congressman Jodey Arrington and organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the industry association AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans).
We are evaluating current regulations and are pursuing possible plan offerings with diligence in order to seek the best solutions for our Chamber members, much as we did in 2006 when we first formed an award-winning health plan for members that became nationally recognized. With an overwhelming response when we first launched, our health plan was well received, peaking at roughly 1,000 businesses participating in the plan, covering over 10,000 lives. We met a huge demand for health care coverage at a reasonable cost for businesses and their employees.
However, with the passage of the ACA, the flexibility previously afforded to the Chamber health plan was eliminated. The ability to design plans based on local market needs and preferences was eroded, and the subsequent affordability of the plans suffered as a result.
We understand the challenges our small business members face when it comes to health insurance coverage. Although there are still many steps to take, we are doing our best to offer new plan options soon. We hope to offer alternatives for businesses to provide health coverage at a rate that will help employers and employees save money and help grow our regional economy.
We appreciate your partnership with the Chamber, which makes it possible for us to work on issues that affect your bottom line, such as health care. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.
President and CEO
Lubbock Chamber of Commerce