California Health Care Reform and the Inevitable ERISA Challenge

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The reality is, no one knows what a court will decide until a court decides. (Those three years at law school weren’t a total waste!)  The District Court ruling,  Golden Gate Restaurant Association v City and County of San Francisco, will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. And anything could happen there. 

What’s important to keep in mind is that previous ERISA decisions by Circuit Courts, such as that of the Fourth Circuit when it overturned a Maryland law aimed at Walmart, are not controlling in California. A decision from the Ninth Circuit will be. That’s just the way Federal Appeals Court decisions work — they’re only controlling in Federal Courts in the states comprising that circuit.

ERISA has been the bane of state and local health care reform efforts for years and is one of the reasons national health care reform is likely to be required. While the authors of ABX1-1 have taken great care to avoid running afoul of ERISA, that’s a far from easy task. Just ask the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Better still, ask the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

2 thoughts on “California Health Care Reform and the Inevitable ERISA Challenge

  1. Actually, I was aware of that decision — I had read about it in your excellent posts on the subject. Not having read the decision, however, I’m not in position to conclude it’s controlling in this situation. That’s a decision the Ninth Circuit itself will make. But thanks for the comment Mr. Reed. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts on the topic.

  2. Mr. Katz appears unaware of the fact that the 9th circuit court has already issued one of the landmark ERISA rulings of the past 30 years, in the Agsalud vs. Standard Oil of California case. In 1980, the 9th backed a district court ruling scrapping the state of Hawaii’s employer mandate. The ruling was upheld without comment by the Supreme Court. Hawaii subsequently asked for and received a congressional exemption for its mandate. The author of the decision, Mary M. Schroeder, was until last month the chief judge of the 9th circuit. She was appointed by a Democrat (Jimmy Carter).

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