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In June 2016, AmSurg Corp. and Envision Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (Envision) announced they have signed a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which the companies will combine in an all-stock transaction. Upon completion of the merger, which is expected to be tax-free to the shareholders of both organizations, the combined company will be named Envision Healthcare Corporation and co-headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee and Greenwood Village, Colorado. The company's common stock is expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol: EVHC. Bass, Berry & Sims served as lead counsel on the transaction, led by Jim Jenkins. Read more.

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Inside the FCA blogInside the FCA blog features ongoing updates related to the False Claims Act (FCA), including insight on the latest legal decisions, regulatory developments and FCA settlements. The blog provides timely updates for corporate boards, directors, compliance managers, general counsel and other parties interested in the organizational impact and legal developments stemming from issues potentially giving rise to FCA liability.

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Labor Talk Blog: U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Sixth Circuit’s Long-Standing Presumption Treating Healthcare Benefits as Vested for Life


February 2, 2015

Employers in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee may now have more freedom to alter, reduce or eliminate healthcare benefits provided to retired union workers. On January 26, 2015, the Supreme Court in M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett unanimously decided that the Sixth Circuit's long-standing "Yard-Man" presumption violates traditional principles of contract law. 2015 U.S. LEXIS 759 (2015). Under Yard-Man, courts should presume that healthcare benefits provided to union employees are vested for the life of the retired employee unless the collective-bargaining agreement clearly states to the contrary. See United Auto Workers v. Yard-Man, Inc., 716 F.2d 1476 (6th Cir. 1983). As Justice Clarence Thomas noted, however, such a presumption distorts any attempt to ascertain the actual intent of the parties. As a result, it effectively disregards ordinary contract principles and "plac[es] a thumb on the scale in favor of vested retiree benefits in all collective-bargaining agreements." M&G Polymers, 2015 U.S. LEXIS, at *18.

This is a major win for employers. While the Court's holding does not imply a presumption in favor of employers or offer guidance to lower courts when determining whether retirees are entitled to vested lifetime benefits, the decision removes a significant hurdle for employers seeking to reduce financial liabilities to retirees. In addition, the Court specifically identified and rejected a number of arguments that union retirees could make in favor of vested health benefits. For example, the Court rejected the idea that a clause specifically limiting the duration of retiree health benefits is necessary for a court to find that the benefits are not vested. And the Court dismissed the idea that contract language tying retiree health benefits to pension benefits indicates the intent for the benefits to be vested.

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