S. 545: Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003
About This Legislation:
The Small Business Health Fairness Act would for allow association-sponsored health plans (AHP) by
permitting associations to provide health insurance to association members and their members’ employees
under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which preempts state mandated benefits.
The plans would be administered under the Department of Labor, much like corporations are already.
The association sponsored-healthcare provision (AHP) provides patient protection by offering access to
affordable healthcare options, which include but are not limited to offering immediate 100% health
insurance deductibility for the self-employed and the strengthening and expanding of association health
plans to small business owners. This proposal seeks to cover the more than half of all uninsured Americans
who are either self-employed or whose family is employed by a small business that cannot afford to
provide health benefits. The bill accomplishes this by creating a preemption from state laws and state health
mandates for health plans that are sponsored by bona fide trade and professional associations. This would
provide small businesses the same opportunities that large corporations and many unions currently have.
Introduced on 3/6/2003, the Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003:
Amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to revise provisions
relating to access and choice for small business employers with respect to medical care for their
Establishes rules governing association health plans (group health plans whose sponsors are trade,
industry, professional, chamber of commerce, or similar business associations), including
requirements relating to certification, sponsors and boards of trustees, participation, coverage, plan
documents, contribution rates, benefit options, applications for certification, notice for voluntary
termination, corrective actions, and mandatory termination.
Requires association health plans which provide health benefits in addition to health insurance
coverage to maintain certain reserves and comply with other solvency provisions. Directs the
Secretary of Labor to apply for appointment, and carry out specified duties, as trustee of any such
insolvent association health plans which provide health benefits in addition to health insurance
Allows a State to impose a contribution tax on any association health plan commencing operations
in such State after the enactment of this Act.
Requires association health plans to include in their summary plan descriptions, in connection
with each benefit option, a description of the form of any solvency or guarantee fund protection
secured under ERISA or applicable State law.
Revises provisions relating to treatment of: (1) single employer arrangements; and (2) certain
collectively bargained arrangements.
Provides for association health plans with respect to: (1) enforcement; (2) cooperation between
Federal and State authorities; and (3) treatment of certain existing health benefit programs.
The Next Steps to Passage:
Senate Co-sponsors Needed -- Legislation has been introduced in the 108th Congress that would allow
associations to offer health benefits to their members and their members' employees across state lines. It is
important to work diligently to ensure that legislation for Association Health Plans (AHPs) is passed this
On June 19, 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R.
660), by a vote of 262-162, with the support of 36 democrats, moving one step closer to significantly
expanding access to health coverage for families across the country.
Your Help Needed for Senate Passage
The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where an identical Senate version (S. 545) has also been introduced
and was referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The chairman of this
committee is Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) and the ranking member is Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA).
The true test will be in the Senate, where it will be necessary to secure more co-sponsors, particularly on
the democratic side. Please ask your Senators to sign on today as co-sponsors of this important legislation.
If one or both are already co-sponsors, send a "thank you" message instead.
Thanks for your support.
All Cosponsors from All States
Bill Name: Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003 (AHP)
Bill Number: S.545
Cosponsor? Cosponsor Name Cosponsor Date Send Mail
John McCain (R) 03/06/2003
Olympia Snowe (R) ---
Norm Coleman (R) 03/06/2003
Christopher Bond (R) 03/06/2003
Jim Talent (R) 03/06/2003
Trent Lott (R) 03/31/2003
Elizabeth Dole (R) 03/06/2003
Arlen Specter (R) 06/09/2003
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) 03/06/2003
How To Contact Your Senators
You can send email to your senators via the following website:
Phone numbers for senators can be found at:
The following is suggested language to submit when contacting your Senator:
Sample Email or Letter to Senators NOT Sponsoring This Bill
As your constituent and a member of the American Association for Medical Transcription, I am writing to
ask you to sign on as soon as possible as a co-sponsor of the Small Business Health Fairness Act (S. 545).
This legislation will go a long way towards providing affordable healthcare coverage for the self-employed
and those working for small businesses in our area. Medical transcriptionists are often self-employed and
unable to provide affordable healthcare coverage on their own. In addition, many medical transcriptionists
are employees of small businesses, who often struggle with the issue of being able to afford this benefit.
Please let me know of your intentions in this area; I'm looking forward to hearing that you are co-
sponsoring S. 545.
Sample Email or Letter to Senators Sponsoring This Bill
As your constituent and a member of the American Association for Medical Transcription, I would like to
thank you for co-sponsoring the Small Business Health Fairness Act (S. 545). This will go a long way
towards providing affordable healthcare coverage for the self-employed and those working for small
Tips on Telephoning Your Elected Senators
To find your senators' phone numbers, use the attached listing and find the senators for your state or call the
U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202)224-3121 and ask for your senators' offices.
Remember that telephone calls are usually taken by a staff member, not the member of Congress. Ask to
speak with the aide who handles S. 545, the Small Business Health Fairness Act.
After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as: "Please tell
Senator _____________ that I support S. 545. You will also want to state reasons for your support of the
bill. At this point, you can speak to the incredible need for MTs to be able to access affordable healthcare
coverage and AAMT’s ability to seek to provide this if this bill passes. Ask for your senators' position on
the bill. You may also request a written response to your telephone call.
Tips On Writing Congress
The email or letter is the most popular choice of communication with a congressional office. If you decide
to write a letter, this list of helpful suggestions will improve the effectiveness of the letter:
1. Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter. Since your letter
pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly: Senate bill: S. 545.
2. Be courteous, to the point, and include key information, using examples to support your position.
3. Address only one issue in your letter; and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.
Addressing Correspondence to a Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator (Last Name):
Note: When writing to the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (Sen. Judd
Gregg), it is proper to address the letter “Dear Mr. Chairman.”