AMA backs states' suit over association health plans with a warning of fraud

The American Medical Association (AMA) urged a Washington, D.C., district court last week to block a rule finalized by the Trump administration to expand association health plans (AHPs). 

In an amicus brief (PDF) filed with the court last week, the AMA said the rule will undermine consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), leaving patients "vulnerable to worse health outcomes and/or financial ruin." The association argued that AHPs could eliminate things like essential health benefits or pre-existing condition coverage, which would be particularly harmful to women.

The Trump administration finalized a rule to expand AHPs in June. Consumer advocacy groups and providers, including the American Hospital Association (AHA), quickly raised concerns about the loosened restrictions as officials celebrated the flexibility and choice for consumers.

"Denying patients coverage based on seemingly neutral characteristics that the insurance industry knows, in reality, are associated with higher medical costs or pre-existing conditions would leave patients with lower quality care, greater out-of-pocket expenses, and overall poorer health outcomes," the AMA wrote in its legal brief. "Those consequences subvert the object and design of the ACA."

The brief was filed as part of a lawsuit brought by a dozen attorneys general seeking to block the rule and making similar arguments. 

RELATED: 12 attorneys general are suing the Trump administration over its association health plan rule. Here's what you need to know