RICHMOND, VA, 2 MAY 2019: Senate Republicans today expressed outrage and disappointment over Governor Ralph S. Northam’s (D) veto of legislation that would have increased options for small businesses and associations to offer low-cost coverage for their employees. Bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate approved Senate Bill 1689 by votes of 28-to-12 and 61-to-38, respectively.
Senate Bill 1689 would have allowed small businesses to pool their purchasing power through non-profit organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce to negotiate lower cost healthcare plans for their employees.
Governor Northam had earlier attempted to change the bill by offering amendments that would have stripped self-employed individuals of their health insurance coverage. The Senate rejected those amendments by a vote of 6 to 32 on April 3.
“Considering this administration’s previous actions on legislation that would have made healthcare more accessible and affordable for individuals, today’s decision to deny small businesses and their employees the same options is disappointing, but not surprising,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford), Chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee. “With this veto, the Administration has reaffirmed its rigid insistence on a ‘one-size-fits-all government-knows-best’ policy on healthcare coverage.
“The Administration’s earlier effort to amend this legislation, which would have effectively stripped the self-employed of their health insurance, revealed their strict adherence to an unaffordable, government-only solution to our healthcare challenges.”
“Senate Bill 1689 would have allowed small businesses to join together to pool their buying power to obtain lower cost healthcare plans for their employees,” noted Senator Siobhan S. Dunnavant (R-Henrico). “His veto forces businesses to choose between offering high-cost health insurance, or ending employee coverage and sending workers to the exchanges. He made the wrong choice.
“The Governor continues to try propping up a failing system, when we have ACA-compliant options available that neighboring states are already using. Because Virginia remains behind the curve, our residents are paying more than they need to for health insurance. Worse, some are going without.”