In Tough Times, We Need Leadership, Not Interference, From Lawmakers

2/5/09

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The bills’ sponsors believe that AHPs are rating out bad risks and only keeping good ones. Yet, if that is true why has enrollment in AHPs across the state increased substantially? We believe these accusations are false and efforts to intercede in the Association health plan market will mean dramatic rate increases.

The members of the technology industry who receive insurance through an AHP are generally pleased with the variety of plans they are offered, and the pricing of these plans relative to alternatives. Several hundred companies get insurance through the WTIA and this allows them to compete successfully for employees who are often being wooed by larger companies (with very attractive benefit packages). These proposed bills will eliminate both rating flexibility and other incentives to keep health care premiums low — with a direct result of higher insurance premiums.

These bills are classic examples of how the personal views of legislators — not the needs or wants of small businesses – get translated into bad policy.

At a time when we need to nurture our innovation economy — when small technology businesses are worrying about finding their next customer or next round of investment, we don’t need the “help” of the legislature on this issue. We need their help to maintain investments in higher education for engineering and science degrees, strong math standards for kids so they’ll be prepared for the innovation economy, broadband access across the state so everyone can participate in the technology economy, among many other efforts.

We don’t envy the difficult job ahead for the legislature this year and we know that they are working hard through the difficult tradeoffs. Let’s not let personal priorities replace public good at this critical time.

To find out more information about the specific bills or to communicate directly with the house members considering this bill on Friday afternoon. If you would like to testify at the hearing, please contact WTIA’s Lew McMurran at Lmcmurran@washingtontechnology.org or at 206-448-3033 x101.

Ken Myer is currently an Interim Executive In Residence at the UW Center For Commercialization. He also serves on the board of FIRST. Follow @

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