RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A way for North Carolina small businesses and sole proprietorships to join together and obtain more affordable individual health insurance is heading to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk after the measure received final legislative approval.

The Senate voted 32-9 on Tuesday for the measure, which lays out rules for forming Association Health Plans, so businesses can be treated like a “large employer” and offer health benefits. The House approved it last week. There was bipartisan support in both chambers.

State regulators would subject plans to financial and coverage standards, such as treating pre-existing conditions and requiring at least 500 people be eligible for coverage. Several business and trade groups back the bill, which could potentially help 110,000 people gain insurance.

Cooper’s office says he’ll now review the bill. He can sign it into law, veto it, or it can become law without his signature.

Copyright 2019, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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