The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the framework of the Department of Labor’s proposal to broaden the criteria for determining when employers can join together to form an association health plan. Key to the department’s proposed rule is a correction to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that eliminated AHPs as an affordable option for many people.
In September 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued an ACA-related guidance document that required all AHPs to be bound by small group insurance requirements. This forced many AHPs, including multiple state Farm Bureau AHPs, to stop offering insurance coverage because the small group insurance requirements defeat the advantages and cost savings that AHPs provide.
DOL’s recent proposal “corrects the provisions of ACA that diminished AHPs as a quality and affordable insurance option for farmers, ranchers and rural Americans,” Farm Bureau said in comments to the department.
In addition, the proposal would allow state Farm Bureaus to form an AHP and offer those plans across state lines, which would increase competition and allow farmers and ranchers to gain insurance coverage at the most cost-effective rate, according to AFBF.
The organization also addressed several aspects of DOL’s proposal that were of concern to state Farm Bureaus, though AFBF does not have policy positions on them.
Farm Bureau’s comments were put forth in response to a proposed rule by the Employee Benefits Security Administration.