Committee Democrats Oppose DOL’s Harmful Rule on Association Health Plans

WASHINGTON – Today, the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing entitled, “Expanding Affordable Health Care Options: Examining the Department of Labor’s Proposed Rule on Association Health Plans.” On January 5, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposed rule on association health plans, which puts comprehensive and affordable health care coverage for small businesses and their employees at risk.

“The Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed rule on Associated Health Plans will leave some with cheaper coverage that fails to meet their basic health needs and leaves everyone else with higher costs,” said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL). “The gaps in this rule’s justification and analysis provided by the Department are troubling. Members of Congress and the general public would benefit from hearing directly from DOL, which is why Members of this Committee have requested more information from the Department, to no avail. I hope the Majority will join us in having an open and honest discussion about the real effect this proposed rule will have on small businesses and their employees.”

Legal experts, consumer groups, and advocacy groups have raised concerns about the impact of the proposed rule. The proposed rule could leave Americans with inadequate coverage that prevents access to the care they need, such as maternity care, mental health treatment, and substance use disorder treatment. This proposed rule could also leave older, sicker, and higher cost consumers behind with skyrocketing costs, making it difficult to obtain coverage. As history suggests, the proposed rule could also leave small businesses and their workers on the hook for millions in unpaid medical bills.

“AHPs are not a new idea. In fact, states have already experimented with these plans with disastrous results. Claims that AHPs will be a boon to small employers are based on little evidence and in fact, much evidence exists to the contrary,” said John Arensmeyer, Founder and CEO, Small Business Majority. “We must do everything we can to ensure small businesses can access quality, affordable health coverage so they can focus on running their businesses. This means strengthening the small group and individual exchanges, rather than enacting rules that undermine the ACA and create instability in the health insurance markets.”

The proposed rule is the latest Republican attack on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the expense of consumers. Committee Democrats are committed to protecting workers through sensible solutions, such as The Undo Sabotage and Expand Affordability of Health Insurance Act of 2018. This legislation would strengthen the ACA by improving access and affordability and undo the harmful policies proposed and implemented by the Trump administration.

FACT SHEET: Proposed Rule to Expand Association Health Plans: The Trump Administration’s Latest Step to Sabotage Health Coverage

OPENING STATEMENT: Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce

WITNESS TESTIMONY: John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO, Small Business Majority

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