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Action Alert: AHP's gain momentum, March 2003

March 2003

NRCA now is closer than ever to offering quality affordable health insurance to its members across state lines. This can happen when association health plan (AHP) legislation passes the House of Representatives and Senate and is signed into law by President Bush. However, the Senate may be unlikely to pass the bill. Therefore, NRCA encourages you to contact your state's two U.S. senators and urge them to support AHP legislation.

You can use the following sample letter to write your state's two U.S. senators about AHPs. To find your elected officials, contact the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and provide the name of your senator(s) to be connected. Please direct any questions to NRCA's Washington, D.C., office at (800) 338-5765 or e-mail Craig Brightup, NRCA's vice president of government relations, at cbrightup@nrca.net.

Sample letter

Dear Senator ______:

I am writing to urge you to cosponsor S545, the Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003. Introduced on March 6, S545 would expand access to health care for millions of uninsured workers in America by permitting the creation of federally-sanctioned association health plans (AHPs). AHPs would allow bona fide associations, such as the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), an association to which I belong, to offer health benefits to their members under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974.

S545 is vitally important to me and other roofing contractors because it will allow us to band together across state lines through our association memberships to purchase health coverage for our employees and their families. By enrolling in an AHP, a small business would be able to secure the same economies of scale, purchasing clout and administrative efficiencies that large companies and labor unions currently enjoy. This would result in lower health-care costs and new coverage options for the working uninsured, whose only current choice is high-priced, over-regulated plans that often exist in their states.

For more than 25 years, labor unions, medium-sized businesses and Fortune 500 companies have been able to provide group health coverage under ERISA. These ERISA plans have saved those companies from the cumbersome and expensive task of having to comply with different rules, regulations, and benefit mandates that exist in each of the 50 states. Today, more than 115 million workers in America are covered by ERISA plans.

Unfortunately, small businesses currently do not have the same opportunity. By most estimates, approximately 42 million workers in America are without health insurance. And of that figure, more than 60 percent reside in a family in which the principal wage earner is employed by a small business that potentially could take advantage of AHPs. Under the current system, rising health-care costs have priced insurance premiums beyond the reach of many small businesses. To make matters worse, the number of insurers that serve the small-business market continues to dwindle.

Again, I urge you to support S545 to correct this arbitrary and unjust imbalance by placing small businesses on a level playing field with larger businesses and labor unions. My employees, their families and I deserve greater access to affordable health care.

(Your name)

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