Small Business Healthcare Relief Bill Clears Latest Hurdle
Legislation providing Connecticut small businesses and their employees access to more affordable, high quality health plan options cleared another legislative hurdle May 1.
The legislature’s Appropriations Committee approved HB 6710 with broad bipartisan support on a 44-9 vote.
Senators Mae Flexer (D-Willamantic), Julie Kushner (D-Danbury), Matt Lesser (D-Middletown), Martha Marx (D-New London), and Gary Winfield (D-New Haven), and state representatives Greg Haddad (D-Mansfield), Susan Johnson (D-Windham), Kevin Ryan (D-Oakdale), and Peter Tercyak (D-New Britain) voted no.
The bill, supported by CBIA and dozens of trade associations and chambers of commerce, now awaits action in the House.
Health Benefit Mandates, Oversight
The referral followed an analysis by the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis that showed an annual cost of $17,000 to the Connecticut Insurance Department to regulate new health plans contemplated under the bill.
The bill, which has a number of cosponsors from both sides of the aisle, provides nonprofit groups, trade associations, and their employer members two pathways to obtain more affordable, higher quality health insurance.
It allows organizations that meet federal Department of Labor rules regarding association membership composition to aggregate their members and purchase a large group, fully insured Affordable Care Act product directly from a licensed carrier.
The bill also allows associations with significant scale to offer a self-funded health benefit plan subject to extensive oversight by the Connecticut Insurance Department and in compliance with key provisions of the ACA.
States Adopt Similar Laws
Addressing small business health insurance costs and accessibility is one of CBIA’s 2023 Transform Connecticut policy solutions, supported by a bipartisan group of 84 lawmakers—almost half the General Assembly—and a coalition of businesses and organizations.
HB 6710 closely mirrors legislation that passed with bipartisan support in Virginia last year.
Under that bill, the legislature authorized the Virginia Chamber of Commerce to offer a self-funded health benefit arrangement subject to extensive oversight by the state’s insurance regulators.
The Virginia chamber is working with its third party administrator, to begin enrolling small employers.
Other states like Ohio, Missouri, Maine, Georgia, and Washington also allow similar arrangements.
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