The Supreme Court Agrees to Determine Whether ERISA Preempts a Vermont Health-Care Database Reporting Mandate
34 Tax Mgm’t Wkly. Rep. 860 (July 6, 2015)
4 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 6, 2015
On August 13, 2014, Alfred J. Gobeille, the chair of the Vermont Green Mountain Care Board, filed a certiorari petition with the United States Supreme Court, seeking to overturn a decision by the Second Circuit of Appeals holding that ERISA preempts Vermont's health-care database-reporting mandate as applied to the third-party administrator of a self-funded ERISA health-care reimbursement plan, Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Life Ins. Co. (the “Gobeille Cert Petition”). On June 29, 2015, the Supreme Court granted the Gobeille Cert Petition, thereby deciding to review the Second Circuit holding in Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Donegan. Vermont presented the following question in its Gobeille Cert Petition: Did the Second Circuit - in a 2-1 panel decision that disregarded the considered opinion advanced by the United States as amicus - err in holding that ERISA preempts Vermont's health care database law as applied to the third-party administrator for a self-funded ERISA plan?
The cert filings discuss how to apply the presumption that the basic thrust of the ERISA preemption clause was to provide for the nationally uniform administration of employee benefit plans by avoiding a multiplicity of plan regulation. None of cert filings highlight the challenges to such presumption or the incoherence of the Supreme Court’s ERISA preemption decisions, such as Shaw v. Delta, 463 U.S. 85 (1983), New York State Conference of Blue Shield and Blue Cross Plans v. Travelers, 514 U.S. 645 (1995), and Egelhoff v. Egelhoff, 532 U.S. 141 (2001). Nor do the filings discuss the conflicts between those decisions and the terms of ERISA.
There are important questions about the extent to which ERISA preempts a state-law reporting, record-keeping, or disclosure mandate, or any other state law. It is advisable for the Supreme Court and commentators addressing these questions to consider approaches that seek to best reconcile those decisions with the ERISA statute in a coherent and clear fashion, such as those proposed by Prof. Edward Zelinsky or by Mr. Albert Feuer.
Keywords: ERISA, disclosure, reporting, record keeping, Supreme Court, certiorari, healthcare, healthcare databases, preemption
JEL Classification: G22, G23, I18, J32, J33, K23, K24, K29, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation