The National Association of Realtors this week launched a national advertising campaign to urge Congress to pass small-business health plan legislation that seeks to give small-business employees greater access to group health insurance plans.

The Realtor trade group’s ad campaign began Monday and will run in national daily papers in state capitals through April 18. The ads coincide with national “Small Business Week,” according to an NAR announcement.

The ad cites a survey conducted for NAR, which found that 85 percent of respondents support the legislation as introduced by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The survey results are available online at:$FILE/SBHPPoll32806.ppt.

Thomas M. Stevens, NAR president, said in a statement, “The (legislation) will enable small businesses and the self-employed the opportunity to purchase affordable health insurance coverage. After all, small businesses generate well over 60 percent of all new jobs. The businesses may be small, but together, their power drives our economy.”

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed legislation that would allow small businesses and self-employed workers to band together through a trade or professional association to negotiate lower health insurance costs for participants. Small business health plans would operate under the same rules as federally regulated large corporate and union plans that provide group health insurance to all participants regardless of where they live. Action is pending by the full Senate on S. 1955, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act, the trade group reported.

“We hope this will be a priority for Congress when they return from their congressional recess,” Stevens said. “Too many Realtors, most of whom are small business people or independent contractors, struggle to find quality, affordable health care for their employees and families,” said Stevens. “The completion of the (legislation) … would allow associations like NAR to offer a uniform health care plan and thus use our collective bargaining power to the lower the cost of health insurance for Realtors and small business people everywhere.”

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