EFFORTS TO CONTINUE INTO 2020 SESSION
In what we called a “long-shot” effort, Realtors® lobbied to have an amendment inserted into a bill this past session of the Virginia General Assembly to allow an association, such as Virginia Realtors®, to negotiate health insurance plans for its members on the large group market – these are commonly referred to as Association Health Plans (AHPs). The Realtor® amendment would have ensured that independent contractors, which covers most NVAR members, and sole proprietors would be able to participate.
Respondents to a Virginia Realtors® survey indicated that 7,000 Realtors® across the state do not have insurance, primarily because of the high cost in the individual marketplace. These individuals often fall into the coverage gap and either pay exorbitant costs for coverage or go without any coverage at all.
With a strong lobbying effort, the measure was passed by both the House and Senate. Unfortunately, the Governor had concerns with the original legislation and offered amendments to it. These amendments essentially negated the language Realtors® had inserted in the bill, so we asked the legislature to reject those amendments. While we had support from a majority of the legislature to pass our version, the Governor’s amendments made the bill unworkable for our independent contractors.
The bill patrons and other legislators have pledged to work with the real estate community and others, such as chambers of commerce, to draft legislation that will meet our members’ needs. This will be a priority for NVAR and Virginia Realtors® over the coming months.