The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce announced recently it plans to be among the first business groups to take advantage of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule expanding association health plans (AHPs).
The Las Vegas chamber hopes to start an AHP for Nevada small businesses and sole proprietors by Sept. 1, according to reports. The chamber offered an AHP for nearly 30 years that covered roughly 20,000 people until 2014, when chamber officials say provisions in the Affordable Care Act made it unfeasible to continue.
Las Vegas Chamber CEO Mary Beth Sewald told the Nevada Independent that the chamber is looking at all of its options but wants to “provide the most robust plan we can possibly get.”
ASAE is also studying the AHP regulations closely and will be working with a coalition to ensure that AHPs can sell plans across state lines and to address other policy concerns surrounding the DOL’s regulations.
The final rule broadens the definition of an employer under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to allow more groups to form AHPs as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act health exchanges. ERISA is the federal law governing health benefits offered by large employers. Under the final rule, AHPs may be sold nationally, in groups of states or in a single state, according to the Labor Department. States will continue to regulate them, although ASAE and others had pushed for AHPs to be exempt from state regulation.
The new rule also allows small businesses and self-employed individuals who are in unrelated professions to band together to obtain coverage through an AHP as long as they are in the same geographic region.
The rule has been challenged by attorneys general in New York and Massachusetts, who filed suit to block the administration from offering plans that don’t have to cover all of the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits.