Lawmaker: Allow Small Businesses to Enroll in Fed Health Plans

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, introduced the Healthy Competition for Small Business Act. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, introduced the Healthy Competition for Small Business Act. Al Grillo/AP file photo

A Democratic lawmaker has introduced a plan to ease small businesses’ transition into new requirements in the Affordable Care Act by allowing them to opt into the federal employees health care system.

Legislation from Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska -- the Healthy Competition for Small Business Act -- would grant small business owners the opportunity to enroll their employees in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan if fewer than two insurance plans are available in the small business exchange of the state in which the business is located.

President Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul required the creation of the Small Business Health Options Program, a marketplace for small employers to shop for health care plans for their workers. In introducing his bill, Begich expressed concern about limited competition and delayed availability of multi-state plans -- another provision of the ACA that attempts to create new, nationwide insurance plans for consumers. The Senator included the provision in a series of bills aimed at simplifying the new health care law for small businesses.

“I want our small-business owners to spend their time focused on what they do best -- creating jobs and supporting our local communities,” Begich said in a statement. “That is why I have introduced my Small Business Relief Plan to help remove obstacles for our small businesses and simplify purchasing health insurance."

The bill would end the option to enroll in FEHB as soon as two or more plans become available through the state’s small business exchange. It would task the Office of Personnel Management with overseeing the administration of the proposal. 

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