By Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division
Over the past year, the GRD has been working with the AVMA GHLIT on an issue that may impact the GHLIT’s ability to offer health insurance to AVMA members. The GHLIT is a “bona fide association plan” as defined by the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) for our members and their dependents. Currently, more than 17,000 AVMA members have elected to be insured under this program which, including family members, covers approximately 36,000 individuals. The plan is underwritten by New York Life Insurance Company, which insures medical coverage only for group policyholders (under state insurance law) that are bona fide associations.
In the course of implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA- the health care reform legislation), a technical interpretation of the law by the federal government has arisen which could cause the AVMA GHLIT’s health insurance plan to eventually be terminated, depriving current and future policyholders of the benefits of coverage. The AVMA GHLIT has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to clarify that the health care reform law will not force New York Life to offer health insurance to all individuals in the individual insurance market. Such a requirement would make it impossible for the insurance company, which is not otherwise offering coverage in the individual insurance market, to continue to underwrite AVMA’s plan.
We are obviously very concerned about this. The GHLIT has hired a Washington DC based lobbying firm, with expertise in the human healthcare arena, to help with this issue. The firm has been working with both HHS and Congress to clarify the language in the law so the GHLIT can continue to offer health insurance to AVMA members. But we need your help. The GHLIT has posted an excellent video about this issue on their website, and the GRD has issued an Action Alert on our Congressional Action Network. The Action Alert has a sample letter to send to your Member of Congress. Please personalize this letter so that Congress understands the importance of the GHLIT to you and your family. Even if you do not have health insurance through the GHLIT, please take the time to respond. The GHLIT is important to all of our members, and they will always accept you and your family for health insurance should you lose your current coverage.
For more information please contact Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division, mlutschaunigavma [dot] org () or Ms. Libby Wallace, CEO, AVMA GHLIT, 847-348-5600; libbywallaceghlit [dot] com ().