AOA weighs in, preserves important doctor and patient protections

The Department of Labor (DOL) has just released new regulations that will provide a new pathway for Association Health Plans (AHPs) to be developed. AHPs are group health plans that employer groups and associations offer to provide health coverage for their members' employees.

The Trump Administration is on record in asserting that these arrangements are beneficial because they can allow small employers to take advantage of regulatory and economic opportunities that are available to large employers. The AOA provided input on the development of these rules citing the need to retain important patient protections such as Public Health Service Act Section 2706 (the Nondiscrimination in Health Care provision) and hard-fought state insurance laws that ensure equity and patient access. Importantly, as AOA urged in outreach to DOL, nothing in these new regulations will alter Section 2706. State insurance departments will play an important role in overseeing new AHPs, jointly working with the DOL. While the DOL seems to be currently asserting that the intersection of certain state and federal laws and the potential for new AHPs will be addressed separately, the AOA will continue weighing in with the Labor Department and the Administration and working with our state affiliates to ensure that patients continue to enjoy the freedom to choose the physician of their choice, that direct access is not impeded, and that payment parity exists.