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Association health plans revived as Obamacare repeal stalls

Legislation would allow businesses to purchase employee insurance through trade groups, but idea has been stymied in the past


March 31, 2017
By Walt Williams

Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act may be dead for now, but a bill expanding the ability of businesses to get health insurance through associations is showing some life.

The Small Business Health Fairness Act cleared the U.S. House of Representatives by a 236-175 vote March 15, with most Republicans voting for the bill and all but a few Democrats voting against it. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where prospects are uncertain.

The legislation would allow small employers to band together through trade or professional organizations locally or across state lines in order to purchase coverage at rates normally available only to large companies, according to the National Retail Federation, which is advocating for passage.