Top Democrats File Amicus Brief Opposing the Unlawful Expansion of Junk Insurance Plans

WASHINGTON – Top House Democrats filed an amicus brief in federal court this week opposing the Trump administration’s unlawful expansion of association health plans (AHPs), which purposefully circumvents key consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The brief was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit, which is hearing the administration’s appeal of a district court ruling that the administration’s attempt to expand is unlawful.

In the brief, the Democratic leaders argue that the Trump administration’s effort to expand AHPs is antithetical to the text, structure, and history of the Affordable Care Act and undermines congressional intent. 

“The text, structure, and history of the ACA all confirm what everyone in Congress understood at the time the law was enacted: the distinction between the individual and small group markets on the one hand, and the large group market on the other, is critical to the effective operation of the ACA,” the Members wrote in the brief. “The Department of Labor’s new Rule eviscerates that distinction, violating the text of the ACA and undermining Congress’s legislative plan in passing it. The Department of Labor’s new Rule is therefore unlawful.”

Following an executive order issued by President Trump, the Department of Labor finalized a rule in June 2018 that expanded association health plans (AHPs). In March 2019, the court struck down the Department of Labor’s rule after a judge found that the rule was intended and designed to circumvent the requirements of the ACA and ignores the language and purpose of both the ACA and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  The case is State of New York v. U.S. Department of Labor.

The signers of the amicus brief are: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján, Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair Katherine Clark, Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, and Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal


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