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Health Care Conference Recap: The Case for Association Health Plans

L-R: Jake Cashion, Bill Kramer, and Gary Salamido.

As home to RTP, leading research institutions, a dominant insurance carrier, and some of the nation’s top medical systems and pharmaceutical manufacturers, North Carolina has every resource needed to drive change. But organizations need options, as health care solutions are not one-size-fits-all.

The direct impact of health care costs on business growth and the overall economy of North Carolina is undeniable. Improving health outcomes and making costs predictable and affordable for businesses while keeping employees as healthy as possible is imperative if we are to remain a top state for business while competing in today’s global economy.

The NC Chamber has long advocated to bring value-driven health care to North Carolina to improve health outcomes and make costs more predictable and affordable for businesses. Our goals are to keep employees as healthy as possible, reduce instances of chronic disease, and lower the most expensive health costs, such as hospital visits.

Last week’s NC Chamber Health Care Conference “The Case for Association Health Plans” (AHPs) session took a deep dive into AHPs, reviewed the benefits particularly for small businesses, presented key trends and elements of a recent multi-state analysis, and share success stories from other states in the nation. The session included the following panelists:

  • Bill Kramer, MultiState Associates Inc. Vice President & Counsel;
  • Gary Salamido, NC Chamber President and CEO; and
  • Jake Cashion, NC Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs.

Association Health Plans (AHPs) would allow smaller groups to gain regulatory and economic benefits of a large group plan—enabling them to band together to manage risk and lower costs. This provides businesses with significant savings when compared to a commercial small group market plan.

The NC Chamber supports new legislation that will meaningfully establish association health plans in our state, believing that they provide a valuable and essential coverage option particularly for small businesses who need this health care option to care for their people.

That’s why we have commissioned a study led by MultiState Associates, Inc. to learn more about what is working well and not amongst states that have either implemented or are working to implement AHPs in their states.

“We’re #1 for business for the second year in row for a reason,” said NC Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs Jake Cashion during Thursday’s session. “That small-to-medium size business category employs a lot of people. We must make sure people are protected. And we must address health care costs. You want costs to be lower of course, but you also need predictable prices. We must work together to create that regulatory framework for these businesses.”

NC Chamber President and CEO Gary Salamido who recently returned from the National Association of State Chambers said they spent two whole sessions talking about AHPs with the major of states taking a look and how to implement them.

“Our next step is to see what other state chambers are doing and what are the gaps unique to North Carolina,” Salamido said. “Let’s begin to move forward to develop something that helps our communities. The time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining.”