The Trump administration today proposed new regulations to expand association health plans (AHPs) to create more access to affordable health coverage for small businesses and their employees.

The proposed rules stem from an executive order President Trump issued in October directing federal agencies to loosen restrictions under the federal ERISA law to allow groups that qualify as associations to sponsor insurance plans across state lines.

“Expanding access to AHPs would provide more affordable health insurance options to many Americans, including hourly wage earners, farmers, and the employees of small businesses and entrepreneurs that fuel economic growth,” the Trump directive states.

Trump mentioned AHPs during an interview he gave over the holidays, and said he anticipated the expansion of AHPs would end up covering “millions and millions of people.”

ASAE has long believed that association health plans could expand health care choices for small businesses and franchise owners if federally regulated. It’s not immediately clear from the rules issued this week if all 501(c)(6) and (c)(3) membership associations would be eligible to sponsor an AHP under the new rules but ASAE will be submitting comments on AHPs as requested by the Labor Department.

Comments on the proposal are due within 60 days and can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov by referencing the Regulatory Identifier Number RIN 1210-AB85. ASAE will share its comments on the proposed rules with the association community as soon as they are written.