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Association health plan legislation moves out of committee.

In March, the House Committee on Education & the Workforce passed the Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R. 525), which would enable metalcasting facilities to more easily band together to purchase health care at a lower cost.

H.R. 525 would bring health plans offered by associations under a federal statute, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), allowing them to comply with one federal statute. This ERISA pre-emption is available for larger, self-insured corporate plans and Taft-Hartley union plans. Without the ERISA pre-emption, an association must comply with individual states' regulations and laws.

Lowering health care costs is a high priority for the metalcasting industry. It is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office that the enactment of H.R. 525 or "Association Health Plans" (AHPs) legislation could lower health care costs for affected firms by 13-25%, which translates into $450-$1,250 per covered employee.

In recent years, the cost of health care has doubled for small businesses, and many employers are finding it necessary to share more of this economic burden with their workers. Currently, small business workers pay nearly 20% more for their health insurance benefits compared to those employed by large companies, while their health care coverage options are reduced.

AHPs would allow small metalcasting facilities and other businesses to come together through a bona fide trade association and collectively obtain the same affordability and choice in the health care marketplace that larger companies and labor unions enjoy.
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Title Annotation:WASHINGTON ALERT; Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities' Small Business Health Fairness Act
Publication:Modern Casting
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2005
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