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Three states ease restrictions on association health plans

Republican leaders increasingly turning to the tool following the party’s failure to repeal and replace Affordable Care Act

April 13, 2018
By Walt Williams

Three states have enacted new measures in recent weeks to expand access to association health plans, which have become a popular tool among Republican leaders to help businesses to circumvent certain Affordable Care Act coverage requirements.

Idaho and Wisconsin were the first states to adopt new rules allowing small businesses to join together through associations to purchase insurance coverage for employees. Iowa joined them April 2 when Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation allowing associations and agricultural organizations to offer health plans.

Association health plans have risen in popularity largely because Republicans have been unable to repeal ACA in its entirety, so party leaders have instead taken steps to chip away at the law. Last year President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing the Department of Labor to develop new rules that would expand the use of association health plans that are exempt from some ACA coverage requirements.