WASHINGTON – Leaders of the Nevada REALTORS® and Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS® (GLVAR) met with federal government officials in the White House last week to support Association Health Plans as way to improve the cost and availability of health insurance for their members in Nevada.
Nevada REALTORS® CEO Teresa McKee and GLVAR CEO Wendy DiVecchio joined Angela Shields, CEO of the Tennessee REALTORS®, and Shelia Dodsonspoke, CEO of the Baldwin County, Alabama REALTOR® Association, at the May 8 meeting at the White House arranged by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The association leaders discussed with federal officials how they have recently developed their own unique AHP programs and how important it is for members of their associations to continue to have access to these health plans.
To date, the association leaders said more than 3,000 REALTORS® and their families in their states have found cost-effective health insurance solutions through these local AHP options.
McKee and DiVecchio explained that the GLVAR and the statewide Nevada REALTORS® began offering their own AHP coverage in December 2018, with nearly 1,000 Nevada REALTORS® from all 17 counties in the state now being covered by these plans.
“There are currently eight Association Health Plans being offered in Nevada, according to the Department of Labor,” McKee said. “That’s more than any other state in the country.”
She added that the “collective public-sector interest representatives at the White House meeting emphasized with the Department of Labor that the plans that are offered are full-coverage plans, offering significant savings to association members, without regard to their level of health, therefore having a very minimal impact on the Affordable Care Act.”
DiVecchio noted that many GLVAR members signing up for the plan GLVAR is offering in Southern Nevada had never had health insurance before enrolling in its plan.
“About 27% of our members signing up now have never been able to afford health insurance, and now have full coverage and are getting the health care they need,” DiVecchio said.
McKee added that “individual insurance was so costly for some people and families that it was out of reach. Now, even people with significant health problems and large families in rural areas that had minimal quality providers now have greater access to local quality providers.”
NAR was represented at the meeting by Christie DeSanctis, director of federal policy for the trade association and its senior health policy expert. She previously worked on AHP issues for U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline.
The May 8 meeting followed NAR’s call for the Justice Department to defend the Department of Labor’s regulatory authority to support AHPs.
DeSanctis explained that 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 price 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 in 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.”
“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.”
The National Association of REALTORS® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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About Nevada REALTORS®
Nevada REALTORS®, formerly known as the Nevada Association of REALTORS® (NVAR), is a professional trade association with more than 17,000 members committed to protecting, promoting and preserving our communities. Visit www.NVAR.org.