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Healey leads 12-state lawsuit against new federal regulation allowing employers to provide skimpy health plans

Attorney General Maura Healey.
Attorney General Maura Healey.(Lane Turner/Globe Staff, file)

Attorney General Maura Healey announced Thursday she and New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood are leading a coalition of 12 state attorney generals in a lawsuit challenging a new federal regulation that allows healthcare plans to sidestep protections set by the Affordable Care Act.

The complaint, filed Thursday in US District Court in Washington D.C., contends that the US Department of Labor’s regulation “would allow associations to market low-quality health care plans across the country and avoid the protections for consumers in the Affordable Care Act,” according to a statement from Healey’s office.

The regulation, announced July 19 by US Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, expands access to a type of insurance known as association health plans. The plans are designed to give small businesses and self-employed workers less expensive coverage by providing fewer benefits and consumer protections, according to The Washington Post.

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According to the Post, the plans would exclude coverage for maternity care, mental health services, and prescription drugs, benefits the Affordable Care Act requires in coverage sold to individuals and small businesses.

“This rule is another thinly disguised effort to destabilize our health care market and sabotage the Affordable Care Act,” Healey said. “It would invite fraud, mismanagement, and deception in the health insurance market and undermine critical consumer protections,” she said.


Jackson Cote can be reached at jackson.cote@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.