On June 15, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States finally issued its long-awaited decision in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana. The Court partially overturned Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC (Iskanian), determining that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts the aspect of Iskanian’s holding that precludes the division of Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) actions into individual and non-individual claims through an agreement to arbitrate. Meaning, if an employee subject to a valid arbitration agreement brings a PAGA claim, then the employee’s individual PAGA claim must be adjudicated in arbitration. (The individual aspect of the PAGA claim refers to violations of the Labor Code actually suffered by the plaintiff, whereas the non-individual “representative” aspect of the PAGA claim refers to the violations the plaintiff has alleged on behalf of other employees.)
What Employers Should Do Now That Roe Has Fallen
The monumental decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade presents significant challenges for employers and health plans. According to this Law360 article, employers should begin reviewing state laws, evaluating internal company policies, gauging employee reactions and preparing for legal challenges. McDermott’s Sarah Raaii called the Supreme Court’s decision “an administrative and potentially employee relations nightmare for employers.”
“It creates a lot of challenges for employers who just want to do right by their employees and continue offering these abortion benefits that they have historically done in the past,” Raaii said.
The Overturning of Roe v. Wade
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (Dobbs), overturning Roe v. Wade (Roe) and upending 50 years of precedent protecting a woman’s right to privacy in choosing to abort a pregnancy prior to the point of viability.
The effect of this decision on US companies cannot be understated. Any organization whose operations touch family planning services in any way (e.g., providers, those that facilitate operations, investors, payors, employers that provide family planning benefits and health plan service providers) should immediately examine their precise services, geographic footprint, corporate structure and organizational priorities.
To determine the best steps to take for you and your business, we invite you to join us for the second program in our new webinar series on Wednesday, June 29, at 2:00-3:00 pm EDT with McDermott Partners Stacey Callaghan, David Gacioch and Caroline Reignley and Associate Sarah Raaii, who will analyze and share the latest developments around the reversal of Roe and its likely impacts on US companies.
Preparing for the Demise of Roe v. Wade and the Criminalization of Abortion in Some US States: Practical Considerations for a Post-Roe World
Sometime in the next several weeks, the Supreme Court of the United States will issue its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (Dobbs). Based on the draft majority opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito that was leaked to Politico in early May, there is a significant chance that the Court will overrule Roe v. Wade (Roe) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (Casey) by holding that there is no federal constitutional right to obtain an abortion and leaving individual states free to substantially restrict abortion or prohibit abortion altogether.
The effect of this likely decision on US companies would be substantial. Every US healthcare provider whose services include any aspect of family planning should give serious thought to how this likely new post-Roe reality will affect its offerings and operations. This includes not only those that provide pregnancy termination services (via surgical or pharmaceutical means, whether brick-and-mortar or telehealth/virtual), but also potentially those providing in vitro fertilization services, and conceivably even some contraceptive providers at some point down the line.
ERIC Petitions US Supreme Court on Seattle Healthcare Case
McDermott Will & Emery’s Michael B. Kimberly, Sarah P. Hogarth and Andrew C. Liazos, are co-counsel on a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC). The petition calls for review of ERIC’s legal challenge to the City of Seattle’s hotel healthcare “play or pay” ordinance. The ordinance mandates hospitality employers make specified monthly healthcare expenditures for their covered local employees if their healthcare plans do not meet certain requirements. The petition demonstrates that Seattle’s ordinance is a clear attempt to control the benefits provided under medical plans in violation of the preemption provision under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA). This case is of significant national importance. Several other cities have proposed making similar changes, and complying with these types of ordinances will substantially constrain the ability of employers to control the terms of their medical plans on a uniform basis. ERIC’s petition is joined by several trade associations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Benefits Council and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
Read ERIC’s petition for writ of certiorari here.
OSHA Reaffirms Arrival of Permanent Healthcare Industry COVID-19 Standard
On March 22, 2022, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a limited reopening of the rulemaking record for the COVID-19 emergency temporary standard for the healthcare industry, originally published on June 21, 2021 (the Healthcare ETS). OSHA will hold an informal public hearing to gather additional information from healthcare industry stakeholders. With the announcement, OSHA reaffirmed its plans to publish a permanent COVID-19 safety standard (i.e., regulation) for the healthcare industry later this year.
US Supreme Court to Review Whether PAGA Claim Can Be Arbitrated
California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) has so far evaded arbitration agreements. Now, the Supreme Court of the United States will take up Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana to determine whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) “requires enforcement of a bilateral arbitration agreement providing that an employee cannot raise representative claims, including under PAGA.”
Supreme Court OKs CMS Vaccine Mandate but Blocks OSHA Rule
On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States released two emergency opinions that change the landscape of the three federal vaccine rules. In summary:
- A 5-4 Court majority let the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) enforce its vaccine mandate nationwide, impacting specified healthcare facilities.
- A 6-3 majority blocked the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from enforcing its vax-or-test Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) applicable to large employers.
- The third federal vaccine rule—the federal contractor vaccine mandate—remains subject to multiple legal challenges and, at this time, the government is blocked from enforcing the mandate nationwide. The Court has not yet weighed in on this mandate.
The Biggest Benefits Rulings of 2020: Midyear Report
The US Supreme Court took up several Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) cases this term, handing down both a major loss and a substantial win to employees looking to sue their employers over retirement plan mismanagement. In a recent Law360 article, McDermott Partner Chris Nemeth discusses these decisions.
“It’s going to be really interesting to see how this plays out,” said Nemeth.
Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal to a Michigan Tax on Health Insurance Plans
The Supreme Court of the United States has declined to hear the Self-Insurance Institute of America Inc.’s ERISA preemption challenge to a Michigan tax on health insurance plans.
As we previously reported last year, the Sixth Circuit, had decided, on remand from the Supreme Court, that the Michigan Health Insurance Claims Assessment Act (Act) was not preempted by ERISA. The Act imposes a 1 percent tax on all paid claims by insurers or third-party administrators (TPAs) for health services rendered in Michigan to Michigan residents. The case was brought by the Self-Insurance Institute of America (SIIA), a trade association representing the sponsors of self-insured health plans and their TPAs, alleging the Act was preempted by ERISA. The trial court dismissed the case, concluding that the law was not preempted by ERISA. The Sixth Circuit also held that the Act was not preempted. After granting certiorari, the Supreme Court vacated this judgment and remanded the case to the Sixth Circuit for further consideration in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gobeille v. Liberty Mut. Life Ins. Co., which invalidated a Vermont statute that required an ERISA plan to report health care information to an all-payer claims database, since the Vermont law interfered with nationally uniform plan administration. On remand, the Sixth Circuit reaffirmed its original decision, finding that nothing in Gobeille warranted overturning its decision. SIIA’s attempt to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court was declined on January 9, 2017.