ASAE is part of a recently-formed coalition that will work with federal and state policymakers to strike the right balance between regulating association health plans (AHPs) and providing the appropriate level of flexibility to allow organizations to provide comprehensive AHP health plans to their small employer and self-employed members.

The Coalition to Protect and Promote Association Health Plans is currently comprised of 16 organizations that believe employees of small businesses and independent contractors deserve quality coverage with strong consumer protections. The coalition intends to develop standards and principles that other organizations operating an AHP should follow, and will fight against fraudulent actors to ensure the AHP market evolves into a viable, successful marketplace.

In addition to ASAE, member organizations on the coalition’s steering committee include: American Farm Bureau Federation; American Veterinary Medical Association; Associated Employers Benefit & Trust; Association of Web-Based Health Insurance Brokers; Financial Services Institute; Foundation for Government Accountability; Indiana Credit Union League; International Franchise Association; Michigan Dental Association; National Apartment Association; National Association of REALTORS®; NFIB; National Restaurant Association; National Marine Manufacturers Association; and the Transportation Intermediaries Association.

In June, the Department of Labor issued final regulations that would allow national trade associations and franchisee-based corporations to offer small businesses and/or independent contractor members access to the same type of health coverage offered by large employers. This coverage, provided through an association health plan, could be offered on a nationwide basis. The final DOL regulations also allow local chambers of commerce and other similar associations with members who do not share the same industry to offer AHP plans to their members located in the same state or metropolitan area.

“AHPs are an innovative way to help small businesses and their employees enjoy the same competitive advantages and access to quality, affordable coverage enjoyed by large corporations,” said ASAE President and CEO John Graham, FASAE, CAE. “While the DOL rule opens the door to expanding AHPs as a viable option for healthcare coverage, there is some work that needs to be done to refine and improve the general precision of the rule and partner with state regulators to make sure there is uniformity across the country.”