Reuters: Trump healthcare order could run afoul of retirement plan law13 October 2017 | 04:20 | FOCUS News Agency
Trump signed an executive order on Thursday aimed at letting small businesses join nationwide associations for the purpose of buying large-group health plans that are not subject to coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
Industry experts said Trump’s order could ultimately enable such associations to purchase insurance from states with the fewest regulations. That would undermine Obamacare, former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, which Republicans have failed to repeal.
Several healthcare and employment law experts said if Trump’s plan moves forward, states could argue the federal government had overstepped its authority in violation of the U.S. Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), a law that governs large-group plans.
In Thursday’s order, Trump asked the Department of Labor to propose rules that would allow more employers to participate in association health plans. Legal experts said lawsuits might not be brought until such regulations are issued.
Dania Palanker, an assistant research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, said ERISA granted states the right to regulate association health plans.
Attorneys general could argue the federal government had overreached if the Trump administration winds up allowing associations to buy health coverage across borders that only complies with a single state’s regulations.
”Any attempt to allow the sale of association plans to small groups across state lines will be open to legal scrutiny as to whether it is violating ERISA and undermining state authority,” said Palanker.
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