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Small businesses could band together bulk-purchase health insurance

President Bush is praising a bill in the U.S. Senate that would let small businesses and trade groups join forces to create discounted health insurance plans. Critics argue the measure would allow insurance companies to bypass state consumer protection laws. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has the story.

Supporters say the bill would allow small businesses to band together to bulk purchase health insurance. President Bush calls it a free market solution to rising costs.

These new health plans would be under federal oversight. Critics say that would allow insurance companies to avoid states' patients' rights law.

Jerry Flanagan is with the non-profit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. He says Californians would lose many of their protections.

Flanagan: Things like requirements you get an independent medical review by a state board when you're denied coverage. Right to a second opinion when your HMO says you can't have the coverage you need.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill sometime this week. The House has already passed a similar measure.
Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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