Kim Shindle

Last Updated: July 3, 2019 | View all posts by Kim Shindle

The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® joined more than 200 state and local Realtor® associations from across the country in support of the National Association of Realtors®’ effort to protect access to association health plans.

Last month, a federal court held that provisions of the Department of Labor’s Association Health Plan rule as unlawful, including specific provisions regarding eligibility for independent contractors. The Department of Justice is appealing this ruling and NAR recently filed an amicus brief in support of the DOJ’s appeal as it continues to work to increase and improve health care options for America’s independent contractors.

“We’re encouraged to see so many associations from across the country demonstrate their public support of association health plans,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® and broker at Edina Realty in Edina, Minnesota. “The DOL’s rule opens the door for Realtors® to access affordable, high-quality health care options that can be so difficult for independent contractors to find. Moving forward, we’re hopeful that our work alongside these local partners will help secure the health care solutions that our members and their families deserve.”

In June last year, the DOL ruled to expand access to health coverage through association health plans by broadening the definition of “employer” to include “working owners.” However, in July last year, 12 attorneys general, including Pennsylvania, filed suit against DOL challenging the final rule. The states argued that the DOL exceeded its authority issuing the rule. At that time, NAR joined an amicus brief in support of DOL’s rule through a coalition.

The court held in favor of the attorneys general in March 2019, eliminating essential parts of the rule that would have allowed self-employed individuals to participate in an AHP. The DOJ filed an appeal in the case.

PAR President Bill McFalls Jr. said, “PAR understands how important finding affordable health care insurance options is to our members. We’re continuing to support efforts to change the court’s decision and we’re working with other entities to find additional options for our members.”

To date, over 3,000 Realtors® and their families have found cost-effective health insurance solutions through the AHPs currently operated by a few local Realtor® associations across the country. Other associations, including PAR, are exploring AHP options, but have been delayed due to uncertainty surrounding federal litigation.

PAR and NAR have found that large insurance companies are apprehensive to offer a AHP to any trade association due to the uncertainty surrounding the legal challenge. This latest ruling and subsequent appeals will further delay any commitment by insurance providers to collaborate on a national plan.