Senate panel backs health alliances

The Senate Commerce Committee has given the go-ahead to make it easier for organizations like chambers of commerce to form purchasing alliances for health insurance, but it doesn't particularly care for qualified trusts, which would make it easier for trade groups, such as the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association, to band together.

Qualified trusts are more of a concern to the committee when it comes to adverse selection, because it deals with a particular type of business, whereas chambers of commerce have across-the-board memberships.

Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Henniker — who owns The Draft, a Concord bar and restaurant — argued on Thursday that qualified trusts would provide restaurants with a better chance of getting affordable health care, and at least should be tried out before federal health insurance reform kicks in.

But Sen. Ray White — owner of Cornerstone Benefit & Retirement Group Inc., an insurance brokerage — said that he was concerned about the other businesses that would be left behind. White said he would speak against the qualified trusts "with extreme prejudice," but noted that 10 senators had signed on to the bill, so he had his work cut out for him. 

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