Illustration 60886103 / Kheng Ho To / Dreamstime
Photo 199231482 / Hye Jin Kang / Dreamstime
Photo 226496518 / Mohd / Izzuan / Ros
Illustration_60886103 / Kheng To To / Dreamstime

NAW Lobbies for Health-Care Reform for Small Businesses on Capitol Hill

Feb. 21, 2003
NAW distributors visit White House.

The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), Washington, D.C., voiced its concerns over the health-care debacle for small businesses at a Capitol Hill hearing earlier this month. NAW, an active lobbyist for health-care reform, participated in a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Small Business on the crisis in health care facing America's small employers.

The hearing, led by the committee's chair, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), also explored approaches to confront the crisis. Citing the results of a health insurance benefits survey conducted by NAW in the spring of 2002, Jim Anderson, NAW's vice president of government relations, said the biggest problem confronting employers is cost. He said premium increases in 2002 over the preceding year averaged 19 percent in the wholesale distribution industry, well above national averages revealed in other studies. The average increase for wholesaler-distributors with more than 500 employees was 16 percent, while the average increase for smaller industry employers reached 20 percent.

Anderson said as employees are required to pay more for less coverage, more young and healthy and lower income workers may elect to drop out of their employer's plan and go without coverage. With more than 41 million Americans already without health insurance, he said the growing lack of access to medical care carries with it public health and economic consequences.

NAW sees two solutions to address this mounting problem. It wants an end to government-imposed mandates on health-insurance plans and the employers and workers who purchase them. These mandates add approximately 15 percent to the overall increase in health premiums. The association is also lobbying for the enactment of Association Health Plan (AHP) legislation to enable employers and their workers to benefit from greater competition and choice in the marketplace. AHP legislation is expected to be introduced by Senators Snowe, Kit Bond (R-MO) and Jim Talent (R-MO), and Representatives Ernie Fletcher (R-KY), Cal Dooley (D-CA), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Nydia Velasquez (D-NY), and John Boehner (R-OH). If passed, this legislation would authorize the formation and multi-state operation of both self-insured and fully-insured health plans sponsored by trade associations.