- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Co-Leads Coalition of 12 Attorneys General in Suing the Trump Administration for Expanding Low-quality Health Insurance Plans
Boston — Attorney General Maura Healey today co-led a coalition of 12 states with New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in challenging a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulation that would allow associations to market low-quality health care plans across the country and avoid the protections for consumers in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the DOL plan to expand the criteria allowing Association Health Plans (AHPs) to be recognized as group health plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) would invite fraud, mismanagement, and deception in the health insurance market and undermine critical consumer protections.
“This rule is another thinly-disguised effort to destabilize our health care market and sabotage the Affordable Care Act,” said AG Healey. “We are filing this challenge to defend high-quality health coverage.”
By broadening the availability of ERISA-recognized AHPs, DOL intends to lure millions of enrollees out of the ACA’s individual and small group markets into large group markets, to which the ACA’s core protections do not apply. AHPs created under the DOL’s rule will lack the basic market incentives and statutory protections to offer quality health insurance that apply to large employers, resulting in plans with less coverage and fewer benefits than Congress required by enacting the ACA.
The DOL’s final rule redefines employer to expand the class of “large employers” under the ACA to include associations made up of separate and unrelated employers and sole proprietors with no employees. It also allows such associations to be formed for the primary purpose of selling insurance, which until now has been unlawful. This action will undermine the ACA’s protections that ensure that both healthy and sick people can get affordable, comprehensive health insurance.
The AG’s Office will continue to work to ensure that all residents get access to high-quality health care that is mandated under state and federal law and will take action to prevent the deception of consumers through AHPs. In 2015, Unified Life Insurance Co., agreed to pay $2.8 million in restitution and civil penalties as a result of its deceptive and unlawful selling of short-term health insurance that was not authorized for sale in Massachusetts, but which it deceptively marketed through a third-party association.
Joining Massachusetts and New York in today’s suit include state attorneys general from California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.