On Jan. 5, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register on the expansion of Association Health Plans (AHPs). 

According to a DOL press release, the proposed rule would increase access for small businesses to offer employment-based health insurance through AHPs and give access to 11 million small business employees/sole proprietors and their families who do not have employer-sponsored insurance. 

The NPRM stems from President Trump’s Executive Order 13813 on “Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States,” which directed the U.S. Secretary of Labor to consider proposing regulations expanding AHPs. The executive order also aims to expand the availability of short-term, limited-duration insurance and the use of health reimbursement arrangements. 

The period for public comment on the NPRM ends March 6, 2018.     

On March 22, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1101, the Small Business Health Fairness Act, which would allow small businesses to access quality, affordable health care coverage through AHPs. ABC, which has consistently supported AHPs, sent a key vote letter to members of the House in support of H.R. 1101. The U.S. Senate has taken no action on the bill.