Press Releases

AG Opinion on Health Plan Funding Arrangement (HRA) Question Clears Up Federal-State Conflict

 Austin,Texas (PR MediaRelease) February 23, 2018

On behalf of consumers, the Texas Association of Health Underwriters (TAHU) recently welcomed a legal opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which clarified whether certain health plans are legal for sale in Texas. The request for the formal opinion by the AG was made by state Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) on behalf of TAHU.

Mike Avery, TAHU president said the trade group representing agents and brokers appreciated Sen. Perry requesting the formal opinion, saying, “There were opinions on both sides of the issue and this opinion by Attorney General Paxton is another way TAHU members can help consumers obtain and keep good comprehensive health insurance.”
In question was a Texas Insurance Code provision along with a 2006 Texas Insurance Commissioner’s Bulletin that prohibited agents from utilizing a new federal funding arrangement known as a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA). QSEHRA was created by the 21st Century Cures Act by the U.S. Congress in December 2016.

“The opinion, KP-0179, by the Attorney General is valuable in clarifying that QSEHRAs are legal under certain circumstances, and that state provisions that prohibited such a plan are superseded,” stated Avery.

Courts generally give deference to AG opinions, as they are highly persuasive and entitled to great weight; however, the ultimate determination of a law’s applicability or meaning is left to the courts. For this reason, TAHU is working closely with all stakeholders to ensure a clear message is delivered to agents and their employer clients statewide.

“This clarification looks like it may be a great opportunity for employers in Texas who have not been able to afford a group health plan for their employees,” said Avery. “This new federal funding mechanism might prove to be a good way to offset the cost of rising medical expenses.”

Texas Association of Health Underwriters (TAHU) is a statewide membership association representing licensed health insurance agents, brokers, consultants and benefit professionals who serve the health insurance needs of employers and individual consumers seeking health insurance. TAHU is a state affiliate of the National Association of Health Underwriters.