In comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) today, the National Partnership for Women & Families condemns a proposed rule that would exempt Association Health Plans (AHPs) from critical consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), increasing costs and threatening coverage for many women and families.
“This rule is yet another Trump administration attempt to sabotage the ACA,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. “It would undo protections for consumers enrolled in AHPs, which have a history of fraud and insolvency and of harming those who need affordable care the most. Women and families will suffer if their plans offer insufficient health coverage and leave them with unpaid medical bills. We call on DOL to rescind this proposal immediately.”
Among other points, the National Partnership emphasizes three key problems with the proposed rule in its comments:
- It would allow AHPs to sell less comprehensive plans while continuing to charge higher premiums to businesses based on employees’ age, gender or industry. Limiting plan benefits in this way can discourage people with pre-existing conditions or high health care utilization from enrolling in coverage. For example, individuals and small employers would not necessarily have access to coverage that includes maternity care, mental health benefits and expensive prescriptions.
- Because the rule would allow AHPs to follow substantially weaker standards than ACA-compliant plans, the plans could be structured and marketed to attract younger and healthier people, ultimately driving up costs for those who remain in the ACA-compliant marketplace.
- The rule could turn back the clock to a time when AHPs regularly engaged in fraudulent actions, such as collecting premiums for non-existent health insurance, failing to pay medical claims and then leaving businesses and individuals with millions of dollars in unpaid bills and patients without health insurance coverage.
In addition to its own comments, the National Partnership cosigned, along with 43 other leading consumer and health care advocacy groups, a letter to DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta outlining strong objections to the rule; find it online here.
The National Partnership’s full comments can be found here.