GHLIT urges veterinarians to speak out to preserve future of program

AVMA's benefits plan could be altered through national healthcare reform
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Apr 01, 2012

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Group Health and Life Insurance Trust (GHLIT) is worried about its fate as the January 2014 effective date for President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act approaches.

The legislation aims to reform the nation's healthcare system, but its breadth and complexity have created a situation dangerous for insurance programs like GHLIT, says AVMA GHLIT Chief Executive Officer Libby Wallace.

The bill, which requires three federal agencies to develop thousands of pages of regulations for implementation, causes two big problems for GHLIT, according to recent data provided by the trust.

First is that GHLIT, a "bona fide" association, currently limits its coverage to members of AVMA and their families, as it has for the last 54 years. The trust now insures 17,000 AVMA members, covering 36,000 veterinarians and family members. But the Affordable Care Act would require GHLIT to extend its coverage to the public. Wallace told AVMA leaders in January that opening up its medical coverage to non-AVMA members could cause GHLIT to lose the advantages of limited enrollment and lose New York Life Insurance Company as an underwriter.

Secondly, GHLIT says its program and other association plans could be treated as individual policies, which are subject to "onerous administrative requirements that may well limit plan availability and increase costs."

Many states have filed federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act already, and the U.S. Supreme Court was set to hear arguments on the program in March 2012 and release a decision by summer. But GHLIT also plans to wage its own battle, Wallace told AVMA leaders, and is lobbying Congress and federal regulators to preserve association plans in the new healthcare rules. She is urging veterinarians to contact their local representatives as well.