The National Retail Federation (NRF) welcomed proposed regulations released by the Department of Labor that would help expand small retailers’ access to affordable health insurance through the use of association health plans.
“Main Street retailers need more affordable health care options and a level playing field with larger companies that are better positioned to negotiate for lower insurance costs,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “For years, we’ve called for AHPs to ensure that heath care coverage is within reach for small retailers and their employees, and today’s action by DOL brings us one step closer to making this commonsense reform a reality. We will review the proposal carefully and look forward to working with the department to expand access to AHPs across the country.”
The proposed regulations released today would empower small employers nationwide to band together through AHPs in order to purchase coverage at rates normally available only to large companies. Small retailers currently have access to AHPs in some states, but DOL’s proposed regulations follow President Trump’s October executive order to expand AHPs across the country.
Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst testified on behalf of NRF during a House Education and Workforce Committee hearing in 2017, saying that the plan run by his group since 2012 has been able to “directly impact the cost of coverage” for more than 5,000 workers at 287 small businesses.
NRF has backed AHP legislation in Congress, saying it would help small businesses compete with large companies in providing employee health insurance at affordable rates. The Small Business Health Fairness Act, sponsored by Representative Sam Johnson, R-Texas, passed the House in March 2017, but has yet to see action in the Senate. Comparable bills have been introduced by Senators Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Rand Paul, R-Ky.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.