CHFS Secretary Meier Calls on Attorney General to Retract False Claims about Association Health Plans

AG Beshear’s fearmongering harms Kentuckians, small businesses

Media Contact: Nicole Burton
502-564-2611
Nicole.Burton@ky.gov

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 12, 2019) – Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Adam Meier today called upon Attorney General Andy Beshear to retract his false and outrageous claim that a key Trump Administration healthcare initiative “threatens health care coverage for Kentuckians, including people with preexisting health conditions.”

The Attorney General’s deceitful comments were made in response to Gov. Bevin joining 15 other states in a Court of Appeals amicus brief in support of the Trump Administration’s Labor Department rule regarding Association Health Plans (AHPs), which allows small businesses to band together in larger groups to negotiate health insurance coverage for employees. The expansion of AHPs would create opportunities for Kentucky’s small businesses to provide affordable healthcare for their workforce and focus precious resources on growing their businesses without worrying about premium increases or cancellations due to health status factors.

The Department of Labor rule specifically bans Association Health Plans from denying coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions. The Department’s Final Rule (June 21, 2018, Federal Register) states that “participants and beneficiaries receiving their health coverage through AHPs are entitled to the same protections under ERISA [Employee Retirement Income Security Act] that are available to participants in single employer groups health plans. For example, AHPs may not exclude coverage for preexisting conditions….”

“The Department of Labor has been very clear that Association Health Plans cannot deny coverage to individuals based on preexisting conditions,” said Secretary Meier. “To state otherwise is false and shows a complete lack of understanding of the intent of the Department of Labor rule, which is to provide workers and small businesses with greater access to affordable health insurance options. AHPs are a great way for sole proprietors and small businesses to have the same kind of health coverage that big corporations offer their employees.”

In official guidance put forth by the Department of Labor regarding ERISA compliance for Association Health Plans, the Department stated that the AHPs rule included consumer safeguards and protections, noting specifically that “AHPs may not charge higher premiums or deny coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions....”

AHPs have been embraced with broad bipartisan support by Kentucky’s General Assembly. During the 2019 Session, legislation updating the Kentucky Insurance Code to adopt the Department’s final rule and expansion of AHPs was passed with overwhelming support (88-6 in the House and 37-0 in the Senate) before receiving final passage in conference committee (81-14).

Ignoring this bipartisan support for AHPs and usurping the will of the General Assembly and the citizens of Kentucky, Attorney General Beshear joined states like California and New York in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the Trump Administration’s commonsense rule. Now, through a patently dishonest claim, he is attempting to mislead the public on an issue of vital importance to Kentucky families and harming the ability of small businesses to provide affordable healthcare to their employees.

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