NAR continues to fight for more affordable health insurance options for members and their families, including through association health plans (AHPs). Today, as one of the founding members of the Coalition to Protect and Promote Association Health Plans, NAR joined and filed an amicus brief in support of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) regulation expanding access to AHPs in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In this case, twelve attorney generals (AGs) filed suit against DOL challenging the Association Health Plan (AHP) rule issued in June. The state AG’s include New York, Massachusetts, California, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, plus D.C. The lawsuit challenges DOL’s redefinition of “employer” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which the AGs argue is unprecedented and in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The AGs further allege harm imposed by the rule related to state insurance market destabilization and increased fraud and abuse by insurers, among other concerns.
The Coalition argues that DOL is entitled to deference because the law is itself ambiguous, which allows DOL to act upon its Congressional authority to interpret ambiguous statutory terms. Furthermore, the interpretation of ERISA was well reasoned and occurred through the proper notice-and-comment procedures under the APA. To counter the AG arguments, the brief also describes the comprehensiveness of AHP coverage, the substantial federal and state oversight over the plans to protect against fraud and abuse, and the fallacies of market destabilization concerns.
Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for late January, which NAR continues to closely monitor and will provide updates. For more information on NAR’s advocacy efforts, please visit the health care reform topic page.