The Department of Labor today released a final rule that modifies the definition of “employer” under federal law such that more individuals, including sole proprietors, are eligible to participate in association health plans based on geography or industry. DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration will monitor the plans, which are required to meet certain nondiscrimination requirements. “The American Hospital Association is committed to ensuring that all individuals have access to affordable coverage,” said AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. “Unfortunately, while the expansion of Association Health Plans may reduce costs for some by catering to healthier individuals, it comes at the expense of the millions who will continue to rely on the health insurance marketplaces, many of whom will bear the full brunt of price increases. We are particularly disappointed that the U.S. Department of Labor preempts states from fully regulating these plans, preventing states from ensuring appropriate consumer protections are in place." The provisions of the rule will go into effect on a rolling basis between Sept. 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019, depending on whether the AHP is existing or new and whether the plan will be self-funded or fully insured.