ERIE – The Manufacturer & Business Association (MBA) has joined the recently formed Coalition to Protect and Promote Association Health Plans. The coalition works 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 AHPs to small employers.
Members of the coalition believe employees of small businesses deserve quality coverage with strong consumer protections. The coalition intends to develop standards and principles that other organizations operating an AHP should follow. It also will fight against fraudulent actors to ensure the AHP market evolves into a viable, successful marketplace.
In June, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued final regulations that would allow trade associations to offer small businesses 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 Pennsylvania Insurance Department is resistant to treating fully insured AHPs as a “large group” plan, which is permitted on account of the “bona fide group” exception to the “look-through” rule.
“Small businesses are the backbone of Pennsylvania and the cost of health insurance continues to be one of their largest expenditures. AHPs provide small business and their employees the same competitive advantages and access to quality, affordable coverage enjoyed by large companies, which drive down their costs,” said MBA President and CEO John Krahe. “We offered AHPs successfully to our members for over 50 years and were prepared to once again make this available following DOL rule to expand AHPs. Without the availability of AHPs, many of our members are approaching the point of no longer being able to continue to offer health insurance as an employee benefit. Our participation in this coalition is representative of one of the many approaches we are actively pursuing on behalf of our members to make AHPs a reality for Pennsylvania once again.”