On March 6, ABC submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) saying that association health plans (AHPs) provide a common-sense solution to increasing access to health care for individuals and reduce the burden on small businesses that have been affected by the Affordable Care Act. ABC’s comments on a DOL proposed rule—Definition of ‘‘Employer’’ Under Section 3(5) of ERISA—Association Health Plans—also cited the benefits of allowing ABC’s small contractor members to offer the same high-quality benefits and health plans available to large employer and union plans.

According to the DOL, 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 proposal stems from President Trump’s Executive Order 13813, “Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States,” which directed the secretary of labor to consider proposing regulations to expand AHPs. On Jan. 5, 2018, the DOL’s EBSA issued a proposed rule.

ABC has consistently supported AHPs, including efforts in Congress that will allow small businesses greater access to AHPs. ABC sent a key vote letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of H.R. 1101, the Small Business Health Fairness Act, which passed the House in March 2017. The U.S. Senate has not taken any action on H.R. 1101 at the time of writing.