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Despite Governor’s Opposition, Association Health Plan Bill Becomes Law

Self-employed owners and small businesses in North Carolina will now have increased access to affordable health insurance. Over the weekend, Senate Bill 86, the Small Business Health Care Act became law. This bill now allows easier access to large group health plans through an association for self-employed workers and small businesses. 

Usually, when a bill becomes law, it is passed out of both houses of the General Assembly and signed by the Governor. This bill, however, became law without a signature from Governor Cooper. The bill was passed with bipartisan support out of both houses of the General Assembly and became law without his signature after ten days of the bill sitting on his desk. 

The John Locke Foundation has been a strong supporter of AHPs since shortly after the Trump administration changed federal rules to make them easier to access and form. Here are some of the pieces of research and commentary that was available while the bills were being debated: 

Of course, there are some legal challenges to be settled concerning AHPs. Currently, under the expanded rule, not every flavor of new plans can be sold. However, the Department of Labor is working on new guidance to allow the rule to go forward as planned. Also, there are bills at the federal level to codify the Trump administration rules. Regardless, North Carolina has passed meaningful legislation that will allow small businesses and self-employed owners to take advantage of this new type of coverage depending on what type of plan they would like to set up. 

Jordan Roberts / Health Policy Analyst

Jordan joined the Locke Foundation in the summer of 2018 as Health Care Policy Analyst. He analyzes state and national health policy issues with an eye toward removing governm...

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