On April 25, ABA COO Oren Teicher wrote booksellers and asked them to contact their senators and urge them to support "The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act," (S. 1955), legislation sponsored by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY). The legislation would allow business and trade associations to band their members together and offer group health coverage on a national or regional basis through Small Business Health Plans (SBHP, also known as Association Health Plans). The legislation is scheduled to come up for consideration in the Senate next week.
"As we are all aware, there is a growing health care crisis in this country. Right now, small businesses have very little buying power and few affordable options when it comes to health coverage," Teicher stressed in the letter. "The upcoming Senate vote on S. 1955 provides us all with a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in our ability to access health insurance and to offer affordable options to employees." (To read the full text of Teicher's letter, click here.)
ABA is asking booksellers to contact their members of the Senate as soon as possible. To have the greatest impact, booksellers should mail a hardcopy letter on their store's letterhead to their senators' state offices and fax a copy of the letter to their senators' Washington, D.C., office. For a list of senators, click here. ABA is also providing a template letter that booksellers can customize and send to their senator.
S. 1955 was offered by Enzi as a compromise bill in an effort to bring SBHP legislation to a vote in the Senate. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT). Enzi's legislation is considered a compromise because it retains state oversight and supervision of insurance coverage, as reported on the American Society of Association Executives website.
The bill's sponsors have designed the legislation to enhance the market leverage of small groups as well as individual policyholders, and they believe S. 1955 will provide associations with a level playing field with other group health plans and make lower-cost health plan options available.
A report prepared by Mercer Oliver Wyman, Inc., a financial services strategy consulting firm, for the National Small Business Association found that S. 1955 would reduce health insurance costs for small businesses by 12 percent and would reduce the number of uninsured in working families by eight percent.
While similar legislation has passed the U.S. House of Representatives numerous times, Small Business Health Plans legislation has never come up for a vote in the Senate.
ABA is asking any booksellers who contact their senators regarding SBHP to please notify ABA's David Grogan via e-mail to tally how many booksellers have written to support S. 1955.
A Letter to Booksellers From Oren Teicher
About Small Business Health Plans
Next week, your U.S. senators will play a crucial role in deciding whether businesses and trade associations will be able to realize significant savings in purchasing insurance coverage.
It is expected that during the first week of May the full Senate will likely vote on "The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act," (S. 1955). We believe that the passage of S. 1955 would level the playing field for small businesses. It will allow them to band together across state lines, through their membership in an association, in Small Business Health Plans to purchase more affordable health insurance. Large corporations already have the ability to purchase health insurance at lower costs -- we believe small businesses should, too.
As we are all aware, there is a growing health care crisis in this country. Right now, small businesses have very little buying power and few affordable options when it comes to health coverage. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, five or fewer insurers control at least three-quarters of the small group market in most states. Many believe that this lack of competition is contributing to double-digit rate increases for small businesses and is resulting in a rise in the number of small business employees who are uninsured.
Given these facts, it is understandable that many small business owners feel they have little or no control over business health care-related issues. But this is far from the case. The upcoming Senate vote on S. 1955 provides us all with a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in our ability to access health insurance and to offer affordable options to employees.
We believe that Small Business Health Plans would provide millions of small business owners, their employees, and their families access to more affordable, quality health insurance.
We are urging you to contact your U.S. senators now. Let them know that they have a unique opportunity to address the health care crisis facing the small business community and all those employed by small businesses. Ask them to vote "Yes" on S. 1955.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed similar legislation numerous times. It is now time for the Senate to do the same.
Please contact your senators today. To have the greatest impact, mail a hardcopy letter on your store's letterhead to your senators' state offices and fax a copy of the letter to your senators' Washington, D.C. offices. Here is a link to find contact information for your members of the Senate.
In addition, we've created a template letter that you can customize and send to your senator. To access the template letter, click here.
Oren J. Teicher
P.S. We are also asking that after you send the letter to your senators, that you please notify ABA's David Grogan via e-mail, so we may keep track of how many booksellers asked their senator to support S. 1955.