Association Health Insurance-Senate Bill 86

If the opening days of the legislative session started out as a leisurely walk, the past few weeks have escalated into an exuberant run. Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, made waves in the world of healthcare policy because a Senate bill she co-sponsored was sent to the Senate floor for debate. Now, that legislation has been passed to the House. The discussions will cover whether or not North Carolina will allow small-business employers to offer association health-insurance plans (AHP) under Senate Bill 86. AHPs allow a variety of employers to come together under one health plan and offer this plan to all their employees at a lower premium.

Senate Bill 86 is a byproduct of federal changes at the Labor Department that modified the definition of “employer” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. SB86 made its way through the Senate Rules and Operations committee on March 12th after receiving additional input from other committees. This development is particularly salient to the Winston-Salem Chamber and businesses in our community because it would allow non-affiliated employers in our region and/or metropolitan area to have access to an AHP through an entity such as the Chamber.

As mentioned, it has been a busy time in the legislature. 370 bills have been filed in the House and 289 have been filed in the Senate, as of March 14th. Schoolhouse Rock taught me how bills are codified through song. More bills will be filed by the April deadlines. However, as the cartoon “I’m Just a Bill” famously sang, “It’s not easy to become a law.” So, most of those bills will not make it past the introductory stage. Think of the bill process as the NCAA Tournament. Many are invited, but very few make it to the final rounds. It’s the original March Madness.

Other Notable Updates

Governor Cooper released his Recommended Budget for 2019-2020. You can find that document here.

Medline Industries Inc- manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies-will receive $524,538 from Forsyth County to open a distribution center that will employ 75 people. More information on this can be found here in the Winston Salem Journal.

Our Forsyth County Commissioners attended the National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. NACo took place March 2-6 and featured enriching programming on diverse topics that are pertinent to our area. The commissioners said the roundtables and presentations were educational and gave them opportunities to illuminate issues germanie to Forsyth County to our federal officials. Commissioner Plyler spoke glowingly about the experience.The Conference covered topics like education, mental health, opioids, broadband access, and healthcare.

Our City Council was also in Washington. I was able to spend time with our delegation and other elected officials during the National League of Cities’ Congressional Congress Week.The National League of Cities is a resource and advocate for the nation’s cities and their elected leaders. Many thanks to everyone who organized the events for our delegation. NLC has fantastic panels, discussions, and presentations which serves the interests of 19,000 cities, towns and villages in the US as well as professionals working in municipal government. The Chamber appreciates being included in the festivities and we look forward to working with our local leaders for the benefit of our great city!

Calvin McRae
Director of Government Affairs