The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration is proposing two rules as part of the Affordable Care Act to protect small businesses and workers who have health benefits through multiple-employer welfare arrangements.

Often, MEWAs have been used by con artists and criminals to deceive consumers, making it difficult for them to pay medical claims. As MEWAs become bankrupt, consumers could be left with high unpaid medical bills. Employers or employee organizations that paid premiums or contributed to MEWAs could also be majorly impacted.

The proposed rules would require MEWAs to follow enhanced reporting requirements to ensure employers, workers and their dependents would not be unexpectedly cut off from health care services. The DOL's enforcement authority would also be increased, allowing it to protect participants in MEWAs and shut down MEWAs participating in fraud or other similar activities.

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