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CEO DATELINE – Report: Groups see association health plans as unworkable

July 20, 2018
By Walt Williams

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Only a month after several business groups celebrated the release of new federal rules allowing for the expansion of association health plans, many of those same groups are now saying the rules are unworkable, according to Politico.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last year directing the U.S. Department of Labor to draft rules giving small businesses and individuals more flexibility to use association health plans to purchase health insurance exempt from some Affordable Care Act requirements. Trump announced the final rules in June at the 75th anniversary party of National Federation of Independent Business, which has been one of the most vocal proponents for association health plans.

However, NFIB recently told Politico it has no plans to establish its own association health plan. The group had been researching the idea even before the rules were finalized but determined setting one up would be too costly and complex.

“We can’t set up an AHP under the new rules any more than [we] could under the old rules,” NFIB spokesman Adam Temple told the newspaper.

The decision not to move forward with an association health plan is reportedly controversial within NFIB, with CEO Juanita Duggan raising concerns about cost and effectiveness but others in the group noting it has been one of the association’s top priorities for two decades.

Other groups also have soured on the idea, with the National Retail Federation and National Association of Realtors both expressing skepticism of establishing their own association health plans anytime soon.

So far the only business group to announce it was moving forward with an association health plan is the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, which had previously offered a plan before the ACA took effect in 2014.