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WASHINGTON,– Representatives from the National Association of Realtors® and various local Realtor® Associations met with White House officials Wednesday afternoon to discuss industry support for the administration’s Association Health Plan rule. This week’s meeting comes on the heels of NAR’s call for the Justice Department to defend the Department of Labor’s regulatory authority to support AHPs.
The Affordable Care Act brought regulatory changes, and some significant price increases, to the individual and small group insurance markets where self-employed professionals who typically lack access to more affordable, employer-provided coverage are forced to shop. As a result, Realtors® have identified AHPs as an attractive alternative through which they can pursue quality health insurance coverage. Self-employed Realtors® have a nationwide median individual gross income of $42,500, meaning many can only absorb modest prices increases before foregoing health insurance coverage altogether.
“The National Association of Realtors® is actively engaging with White House officials in order to ensure the Justice Department protects working owners’ access to group health plan coverage under an AHP,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® and broker at Edina Realty at Edina, Minnesota. “Because this issue is central to the lives of so many NAR members, we’re also pushing state governments to support policies that provide Realtors® with the freedom to choose the health insurance plan they need.”
Christie DeSanctis represented NAR at Wednesday’s meeting. DeSanctis is a Director of Federal Policy for the trade association and its senior health policy expert, having worked previously on AHP issues for House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline. She was joined by leaders from several local Realtor® associations which have developed their own unique AHP programs.
Angela Shields represented the Tennessee Realtors® as its CEO; Association Executive Wendy DiVecchio spoke on behalf of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors®; CEO Teresa McKee represented the Nevada Realtors®; and Shelia Dodson spoke on behalf of the Baldwin County, Alabama Realtor® Association as its CEO. To date, over 3,000 Realtors®and their families have found cost-effective health insurance solutions through these local AHP options.
NAR recently created an updated map showing the state-by-state regulatory environment as it applies to working owners, which also links to a detailed chart outlining specific actions by individual states.
“As independent contractors, Realtors® have long struggled to find and secure affordable health insurance options,” Smaby said after District Court of Columbia Judge John Bates struck down a DOL attempt to expand association health plans earlier this year. “The rule has been successful and is growing in many states, providing high quality, lower cost coverage alternatives to many of America’s 1.3 million Realtors® and their families. As these discussions progress in Washington, we will continue to fight for more affordable, quality health insurance options for all of our members.”