WHAT HAPPENED?

The Employment Retirement Income Securities Act (ERISA) is a federal law that governs disputes between employee and employer health insurance plans. Vermont has a separate State law that requires Liberty Mutual to report certain health care claims to a separate database than ERISA.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT?

Federal preemption is a legal concept wherein Federal law takes precedence over State law in most situations. The theory there is that the Federal government should be able to act independently of each State’s particular laws, since each State is different and States also tend to favor their own citizens over the citizens of other States. While ERISA is generally considered superior law, ERISA also has caveats written into the law that permit States to act in certain areas. This case evaluates those exemptions to see if the Vermont program is permitted.

WHAT IS THE RULING

This case is not yet decided.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THIS DECISION?

This decision should have a fairly substantial impact on the practice of employee health care disputes. If the Vermont program is permitted, it allows more review and better procedure for ensuring the safety, efficacy, and quality of health care delivered to patients. If ERISA precludes the Vermont law, there would be less government interaction required for employers, which would keep procedures consistent across States and the Courts.

YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR GOBEILLE IF YOU:

Are republican in the literal sense, and a democrat in a figurative sense.

YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR THE LIBERTY MUTUAL IF YOU:

For real, Liberty Mutual has the worst commercials on TV, right?  They’re smug and they get played all the time.  So screw them, regardless of legal implications.

 

 

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