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News Release

Assistant Secretary of Labor Testifies On Oversight and Enforcement of Association Health Plans

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Washington, DC - Ann L. Combs, Assistant Secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today made a commitment to Congress to make oversight and enforcement of Association Health Plans (AHPs) a top priority for the agency. AHP legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by at least 97 bipartisan cosponsors to make quality, affordable health care available to millions of small employers and employees.

Combs said, “Small business owners and their employees are in critical need of new solutions to increase health insurance coverage. AHPs can make health coverage an affordable reality for small employers and reduce the ranks of the uninsured.

“Many small employers want to offer health coverage but face significant barriers. AHPs are a centerpiece of the President’s agenda to expand health insurance opportunities for all Americans and we are pleased that the House of Representatives has made passage of the legislation a priority.”

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations of the Education and Workforce Committee, Combs highlighted the advantages of AHPs to increase health coverage among small businesses. She noted that AHPs would give small employers many of the economic and legal advantages currently enjoyed by large employers. AHPs would achieve savings for small businesses through greater bargaining power, economies of scale, and administrative efficiencies.

The new federal certification standards and uniform oversight, which would be administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, would provide important protections for workers and enhance the department’s ability to combat health fraud. The department currently administers the federal employee benefits law protecting approximately 2.5 million private-sector health plans and 131 million workers, retirees and their families.

Combs said, “I am confident EBSA will administer the new protections in the AHP legislation with effective and timely regulation, oversight and enforcement.” She applauded the committee’s leadership in the health care area and pledged to work with Congress to make AHPs a reality.

The full text of the testimony is available on the Internet at

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

Employee Benefits Security Administration
March 13, 2003
Release Number