WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation today urged Congress to support legislation that would allow small businesses to join together through association health plans to provide greater access to affordable health care for their employees.
“Small businesses compete every day with large employers for both customers and employees,” Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst said. “Employees of small businesses deserve the same marketplace rights to obtain comparable coverage at comparable rates as those that work for big business and big government.”
“Association health plans are an important answer,” Hurst said. “Not only do they offer the potential to band with additional small employers in their local state through bona fide trade or professional associations, but it also offers potential to band together with other employer groups in other states … to maintain common benefits across state lines.”
Hurst testified on behalf of NRF this morning before the House Education and Workforce Committee during a hearing on the Small Business Health Fairness Act, an association health plan bill cosponsored by Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg, R-Mich.
The Retailers Association of Massachusetts has run an association health plan since 2012 that serves more than 5,000 workers at 287 small businesses. Operating under a Massachusetts law that authorized the plans at the state level, the association has been able to “directly impact the cost of coverage” for participating companies, and has been able to offer additional benefits such as hospital care plans, dental plans and wellness programs, Hurst said.
The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF.com