A battle over health insurance legislation was expected to continue March 15 in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The bill before the panel would let companies that belong to trade associations jointly buy health insurance. Construction and other business groups as well as President Bush support the concept. Last July, the House passed an association health plan bill that differs from the measure in the Senate committee.

The AFL-CIO opposes the bill the Senate panel is debating, William Samuel, legislative department director, said in a March 7 letter to the committee’s leaders. He contends that the measure is broader than the House bill and would “threaten access and affordability in the non-group and large group [insurance] markets as well.”