WASHINGTON – Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today repeated his opposition to controversial Republican-led proposals to create health insurance pools of small businesses, known as Association Health Plans (AHPs).

Kerry’s comments came during a Senate hearing on small business health care solutions where he expressed concerns that AHPs would circumvent state consumer protection laws, increase premiums for all but the healthiest groups, lead to widespread fraud and insolvencies, and make only a small dent in, or possibly increase, the number of uninsured.

“Health care is the biggest problem facing small businesses today, but these Association Health Plans will only make matters worse,” Kerry said. “All the high-flying claims made about them simply don’t hold up.”

Kerry pointed to numerous independent studies that questioned the accuracy of the arguments supporting AHPs. These studies found that AHPs will allow “cherry-picking,” will “make it difficult or impossible for some small businesses and workers to obtain and afford coverage,” and will “have a minimal effect, if any, on the number of uninsured.”

Kerry announced that he is working with Democrats to provide an alternative to AHPs that works for small businesses, their owners, their employees and their families. And the place to start is the good foundation in the bill proposed by Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.).

At the hearing, Kerry heard testimony from several witnesses including: Elaine Chao, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor; Hector Barreto, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration; Doug Newman, Newman Concrete Services, Inc., Hallowell, Maine; Al Mansell, President, National Association of Realtors, Washington, D.C.; Tom Haynes, Executive Director, Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Association, Atlanta, Ga.; Len Nichols, Director, Health Policy Program, The New America Foundation, Washington, D.C.; John Morrison, Montana State Auditor, Commissioner for Insurance and Securities, Helena, Mont.; and William Lindsay, III, Past Chair of the National Small Business Association, Denver, Colo.