ASA Discusses Legislative Initiatives, New Healthcare Benefit During Press Conference
At a Friday afternoon press conference, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) announced its new health insurance benefit, which will launch in early 2007. The health care program, the Automotive Industry Health Insurance Trust (A-HIT), is ASA's newest member benefit and will be available nationwide by the end of 2007 following a regional rollout.
"We're pleased to offer ASA members a group benefit program and look forward to phasing in the program throughout the year," said Ron Pyle, ASA president and chief staff executive. "A-HIT will feature several group benefits, including medical and dental plans, a premium-only plan, flexible spending accounts and health reimbursement arrangements. And of course an individual short-term product will be available as well."
Further announcements about A-HIT will be available in various ASA publications as the benefit is launched.
Denise Caspersen, ASA's collision division manager, and Darrell Amberson, collision division director, were also on hand to discuss various activities of the association. Caspersen shared with attendees some of the Collision Division Operations Committee's activities throughout the year. Focusing on the accomplishments of five subcommittees, Caspersen announced the following:
Amberson reviewed a number of activities in which ASA is working in conjunction with other collision industry groups to advance the industry and the opportunities for success for ASA members.
- The Estimating subcommittee, chaired by Carroll Proctor, completed a demonstration of the upcoming Audatex estimating system.
- The Refinish subcommittee, chaired by Jerry Burns, assisted in getting unprimed bumpers as a standard in the SAE J1555 - Damage Repair Ability of the Automobile, a document that acts as a standard for vehicle manufacturers. This committee has also completed a trio of refinish fliers, which are now available to the industry. The fliers include "repaired vs. New," "Blend vs. New" and "LKQ vs. New." These collision tools have been made available to help collision repair professionals succeed in creating accurate estimates and obtaining credit for the procedures they perform.
- The Auto Manufacturer subcommittee, chaired by Dan Bailey, has surveyed all OEMs to determine their certification programs and requirements for shops, technicians and equipment requirements. In addition, the subcommittee continues to press for materials substrate identification as the need for materials identification increases.
- The Salvage subcommittee, chaired by Ron Nagy, is focusing on vehicle total loss legislation, salvage parts grading systems, and salvage air bag issues.
- The Insurance subcommittee, chaired by Mike Schoonover, is developing a tool to assist ASA collision shop owners determine the financial affects of insurance agreements on their bottom line. The subcommittee is also studying third-party auditing, administrative costs in relation to insurance provider agreements, and standardizing a supplement process.
Bob Redding, ASA's Washington, D.C. representative, was the last presenter at the conference, sharing ASA's perspective on a number of legislative issues including proposed paint regulations, Right to Repair legislation, total loss legislation and shop licensing.
But Redding said the most pressing issue for ASA on the legislative front is insurance reform.
"Insurance reform is the biggest issue for us in 2007. ASA supports the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act," Redding said. "A 50 state regulatory process is difficult for us. We'd like to see one set of rules. We might fair better in a national regulatory marketplace than in a multi-state marketplace."
In regards to shop licensing, Redding said that collision repairers don't mind paying for licensing standards. And that there are more shop licensing initiatives on the collision front that the mechanical sector in most states. This is an issue ASA will tackle in 2007.