WASHINGTON, DC-Governor Matt Bevin has signed onto to defend a law allowing small businesses to band together to offer insurance plans that a judge determined a “run around” to the Affordable Care Act.

A federal judge in March ruled against the United States Labor Department rule dealing with Association Health Plans which allowed small businesses to join together to offer health insurance to employees.

The Department of Labor argued this plan allowed small employers to expand their health insurance options for workers. In the appeals brief, the defendants argue APHs reduce the cost of health care coverage for employers that would otherwise be too small to take advantage of bargaining tools used by larger employers.

In March, Judge John Bates, of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, struck down the rule saying it was “intended and designed to end run the requirements of the ACA”.

Judge Bates went on to say the ruling “ignored” the language and purpose of both the Affordable Care Act and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.

Judge Bates said the Department of Labor “unreasonably expands the definition of “employers” to include groups without any real commonality of interest and to bring working owners without employees within ERISA’s scope despite Congress’s clear intent that ERISA cover benefits arising out of employment relationships.”

In the appellate brief to the United States Court of Appeals, the Labor Department argues the definition was broadened to allow more people to take advantage of the “purchasing leverage” and the ruling of Judge Bates was flawed.

“The interpretive expansion allows small businesses to participate more easily in the AHP process and take advantage of the group buying power that large employers naturally use. It was of note to the Department that many “small business owners currently do not offer health coverage to their employees” with “ever-increasing costs [being] the primary reason they cannot offer affordable health coverage to their employees and their families,” the brief reads.

Attorney General Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, argued on the other side of this rule. He joined in with 11 other attorneys general to invalidate this law on the grounds that it allowed small business to not comply with provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the pre-existing condition clause. 

Beshear is speaking out against Bevin joining the amicus brief. 

“I disagree with the governor’s new action because it threatens health care coverage for Kentuckians, including people with preexisting health conditions. While Matt Bevin continues his work to strip vital coverage away from our families, I am fighting to make sure all Kentuckians get the health care they need and can afford it," Beshear said in a statement.

The Bevin administration says they are supporting President Trump's efforts to make health care affordable and accessible. 

“Health care costs are unsustainable for small businesses as a result of Obama-era healthcare policies and the passage of the Affordable Care Act,” said Scott Brinkman, Secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet in a release.  “Association Health Plans will allow more businesses to offer health care for their employees, meaning that more Kentuckians will be covered.  This is a commonsense, free-market solution to the spiraling costs of our health care system, and it’s unfathomable that Attorney General Beshear would openly advocate against a policy that would benefit Kentucky’s small businesses and thousands of citizens across the Commonwealth.”

Governor Bevin is joined by the Governor of Mississippi, and 14 other states.