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CEO DATELINE – Senate Republicans introduce bill to protect association health plans

April 16, 2019
By Walt Williams

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A group of Republican senators is co-sponsoring legislation to preserve a Trump administration rule to expand the use of association health plans after a federal judge struck down the effort.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in 2017 directing the Department of Labor to allow more businesses to join together through AHPs to avoid certain Affordable Care Act coverage requirements and purchase employee health insurance at a lower cost. However, in a March 28 ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates said the administration’s action was an unlawful end run around the ACA. Democratic attorneys general in 11 states and the District of Columbia had sued the federal government to invalidate the Labor Department rule.

The new bill seeks to essentially invalidate the court ruling, according to a statement from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is the lead sponsor of the legislation. He noted that several local chambers of commerce in Texas offer AHPs.

“Association health plans make it easier for small business owners in Texas to offer coverage to employees at an affordable cost,” Cornyn said. “After hearing from many Texans who rely on these plans, I was proud to partner with my colleagues to help maintain access to affordable and reliable health care options.”

In addition to Cornyn, 19 senators have signed on as co-sponsors, all Republican. While the legislation could pass out of the Republican-controlled Senate, it is likely to have a much tougher time in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.