The Iowa House voted unanimously Thursday to allow small businesses to form a pool to buy health insurance. Legislators like Dawn Pettingill, a Democrat from Mount Auburn, says allowing companies of 50 or fewer employees to form purchasing associations will save them money on premiums.
Pettengill says her rural district has hundreds of small businesses that are struggling to provide coverage. Pettengill says for many of the businesses, offering health insurance is a trade off for offering a decent wage. She says her district is losing too many people to urban areas where workers can get a decent wage and good benefits.
Clarence Hoffman, a Republican from Denison, owns his own insurance agency and praises the bill. Hoffman says however, it won’t lower premiums for all Iowans. Hoffman says though he thinks the wellness provision of the bill is "excellent" and will decrease claims and the cost of insurance.
The Iowa House considered similar legislation last year, but it stalled when Democrats and some Republicans complained the bill allowed insurance companies to only cover small businesses with the healthiest employees. Legislators are hoping this year’s broader bill will move forward. It now goes to the Senate.