The battle over health benefits rages on. In the latest salvo, a group of states scored a major court victory against the Trump administration’s new “Association Health Plan” Final Rule, which was finalized in 2018. While this decision will have major ramifications, it is important to remember that association health plans may still be established under old rules that existed long before the final rule.
The case is styled New York v. United States Dep’t of Labor, No. CV 18-1747 (JDB), 2019 WL 1410370 (D.D.C. Mar. 28, 2019).
I previously examined the proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to expand so-called Association Health Plans, or AHPs, under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). In a nutshell, the proposed rule was designed to make it easier for employers to form a group in order to provide health benefits to their employees through an AHP. These new AHPs would have more freedom to restrict benefits in order to provide more affordable coverage.
In Executive Order 13813, President Donald Trump made it the official policy of the executive branch to find ways to expand the use of Association Health Plans (AHPs) as a means of providing quality, affordable coverage across state lines.
On January 4, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a proposed rule designed to do just that. Based on 2015 figures, the proposed rule has the potential to impact the health coverage of about 44 million people, whether by expanding coverage to the uninsured, by making more affordable coverage available to sole proprietors and small employers, or by cutting back some individuals’ benefits.