SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined 11 states and the District of Columbia in filing for an expedited judgment to block a recent attempt by the Trump Administration to remove critical consumer healthcare protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The U.S. Department of Labor’s rule allows nationwide employers to group together as Association Health Plans (AHPs) and offer junk health plans that evade ACA coverage requirements and consumer protections. If allowed to take effect, this regulation would allow insurers to discriminate based on health status, age or gender. The rule would also raise premiums, increase fraud and disrupt the healthcare market.
“Trump’s efforts to force working families into junk health plans need to be stopped,” said Attorney General Becerra. “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. We will continue using every tool at our disposal to fight for universal, quality healthcare.”
In October 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order that directed the federal government to undermine the ACA. To that end, in January 2018, the Department of Labor issued a proposed regulation to expand AHPs in the market and finalized it in June. The rule uses the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to push a large number of small employers and individuals into the large group market, leaving them without the consumer protections of the ACA, such as protection against denial of care for people with pre-existing conditions. It will also encourage healthy consumers to leave the traditional health insurance market and pursue cheaper plans with fewer benefits through AHPs. This will drive up the price of comprehensive coverage drastically, leaving those most in need of medical care to face steep prices, or forego care altogether.
On July 26, 2018, Attorney General Becerra joined 12 Attorneys General in filing suit against the U.S. Department of Labor’s unlawful AHPs rule. The Attorney General also joined a coalition of Attorneys General in March in sending a letter opposing the proposed rule because it would leave vulnerable consumers at risk. In addition to today’s action, the Attorney General has remained steadfast in his commitment to defending the Affordable Care Act. In April, he led a coalition of 16 attorneys general to file a motion to intervene in Texas v. United States, taking further action a week later to oppose a preliminary injunction that seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
A copy of today’s motion is attached to the electronic version of this press release here.