States Suing Over Association Health Plans Seek Quick Win

Attorneys general argue the AHPs are ‘junk’ insurance and that the Trump administration is simply trying to undermine the market for ACA-compliant plans.

A group of states challenging the federal government’s expansion of Association Health Plans (AHP) has asked a federal judge to hand them an immediate legal victory.

Attorneys general from 12 states and the District of Columbia filed a motion for summary judgment Thursday arguing that the Trump administration’s final rule on AHPs was an arbitrary and capricious effort to override the market structure established by the Affordable Care Act.

“Trump’s efforts to force working families into junk health plans need to be stopped,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

“Rather than taking concrete steps to make healthcare more affordable and effective, the President is doing all he can to make America uninsured and unhealthy again,” he added. “We will continue using every tool at our disposal to fight for universal, quality healthcare.”

Becerra, a Democrat, has been involved in several legal challenges against Trump administration healthcare policies, including in a lawsuit over halted Cost-Sharing Reduction payments and the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to quit defending key provisions of the ACA against a legal challenge by conservative states.

New York is the lead plaintiff in the case challenging the AHPs final rule.

Despite concern that AHPs could raise long-term costs, the U.S. Department of Labor has argued that the expanded access to AHPs will benefit small employers struggling to pay for health coverage for their workers by allowing businesses to band together to buy insurance as a group.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma has similarly argued that AHPs and short-term limited-duration health plans—which offer coverage that’s both cheaper and skimpier than ACA-compliant options—are needed to give consumers more affordable choices as premiums for exchange plans rise out of control.