Making health insurance accessible and affordable for employers and employees of small businesses affiliated with national associations is a commendable goal, but not if it means some small businesses, especially those employing older workers, will be priced out of the market.
Supporters of S.1955, better known as the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act, which the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on in early May, claim it would help small businesses. But there's more to the story.
The bill would remove state regulatory protections in Arizona and other states relating to rates and benefits, allowing insurers to "cherry pick" groups with the youngest, healthiest workers and leave older workers out in the cold. Insurers could also get by with stripped-down plans that don't cover basic services, like cancer screening, that are recognized as both essential and standard in many states.
As our population ages, and labor markets tighten, older workers are becoming increasingly important to the continuing strength of our economy. But S.1955 creates a disincentive for employers to hire or retain them. That may be an unintended consequence, but it's one Arizona voters need to let their U.S. Senators know this country can ill afford.
Ritch Steven, AARP Arizona State President, Phoenix