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Trump administration to expand association health plans

New rule allows small businesses, self-employed to seek insurance coverage exempt from some Affordable Care Act mandates

June 22, 2018
By Walt Williams

Small businesses would have greater flexibility to join together through association health plans to avoid some Affordable Care Act coverage requirements under a final rule issued by the Trump administration June 19.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last year directing the Department of Labor to find ways to expand the use of association health plans as a means of circumventing some ACA mandates. The order came after Republicans in Congress failed to repeal the Obama-era health care law, dealing a major policy defeat to the administration.

The final rule released by the Labor Department allows small businesses and sole proprietors to use association health plans to buy employee coverage to “gain many of the regulatory advantages enjoyed by large employers,” according to a statement by the department. Among other things, the plans would not have to provide coverage for the ACA’s 10 Essential Health Benefits, including pregnancy, emergency services and prescription drugs.