Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Susie Bilbro and Doug Dahl authored an article examining whether federal law preempts state prescription drug coverage laws that would apply to employer-sponsored group health plans. According to a provision in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), state laws that “relate to” employee benefit plans are preempted by ERISA standards. Unfortunately, as the authors point out, this “related to” statement is broad and vague.
“As a result, the determination of whether ERISA preempts a specific state law rests in the hands of the reviewing federal court and hinges upon the court’s interpretation of the vague statutory standard through the lens of controlling case law,” said Susie and Doug.
The authors cite two recent Supreme Court cases – brought in Arkansas and North Dakota – that challenged this tension between ERISA and state laws.
The full article, “State Prescription Drug Legislation and ERISA Preemption: An Evolving Landscape,” was published by Washington Legal Foundation on August 12 and is available online.