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Capitol Health Call
May 10, 2006

Association Health Plans

JAMA. 2006;295(18):2130. doi:10.1001/jama.295.18.2130-c

A bill allowing small businesses to form “association health plans” to obtain affordable health insurance will be considered this month in the Senate. The “Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2005” (S 1955) would allow small businesses and trade associations to band their members together and offer group health coverage on a national or statewide basis.

Citing medical cost inflation as the primary motivator behind the legislation, Sen Mike Enzi (R, Wyo), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and bill cosponsor, said in a release, “Those hardest hit are America's small businesses and families outside of employer-provided insurance.” But the bill has critics, including the American Cancer Society, which says the bill has provisions that “would set back cancer care more than a decade” and could reduce access to cancer screenings such as colonoscopy and participation in clinical trials by eliminating insurance coverage for such measures.

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