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News Release

Secretary Elaine L. Chao Joins Senate Lawmakers on Introduction of Association Health Plan Legislation Labor Department Prepared to Administer New Health Reform Protections

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao today joined Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Kit Bond (R-MO) and Jim Talent (R-MO) at a press conference to introduce legislation on Association Health Plans (AHPs). Chao told Senate lawmakers that the department is prepared to administer the health reforms that will provide millions of small business owners and their employees with access to quality, affordable health care.

“Many small employers want to provide health coverage, but face major hurdles in caring for their workers. The Labor Department is engaged in aggressive efforts to combat health insurance fraud as well as providing a great deal of information to employers to help them manage their health plans,” said Chao.

“The new federal certification standards and uniform oversight would add important protections for workers and enhance the department’s ability to combat health fraud. These protections would ensure small employers are not at the mercy of ‘fly-by-night’ operations. I am confident of our ability to successfully administer these new protections.”

Chao noted that AHPs present an ideal opportunity to expand health insurance coverage for working Americans. By banding together, AHPs would give small employers many of the economic and legal advantages currently enjoyed only by large employers and union plans. AHPs would achieve savings for small businesses through greater bargaining power, economies of scale, and administrative efficiencies. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, AHPs will lower health insurance premiums by 25 percent and provide health insurance to as many as two million Americans who are currently uninsured.

The AHP protections would be administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, just as the department exclusively regulates self-insured health plans providing benefits to approximately 70 million American workers, retirees and their families under current law. In addition, the department shares regulatory responsibilities with the states for the approximately 60 million participants in fully insured health plans.

Chao voiced support for the legislation and a commitment to work with Congress to help enact and administer the legislation.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employee Benefits Security Administration
March 6, 2003
Release Number