Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs) consist of unrelated employers banding together to collectively offer health and welfare benefits to their employees, which can help small employers keep costs down. Unfortunately, MEWAs have been subject to abuse by certain parties, which has made them a DOL enforcement priority.

As a result of this abuse, the enacted health care reform legislation gave the DOL increased enforcement power, and the DOL issued proposed rules with respect to these new powers. Pursuant to recently proposed rules, the DOL would have the ability to issue cease-and-desist-orders and seize MEWA assets when it detects abuse. In addition, the DOL has proposed modifications to various government forms that MEWAs must file with federal agencies, including the requirement for a MEWA to pre-register its formation with the DOL.

The DOL’s proposed rules can be found here and here.