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SIIA appeals Michigan court ruling on ERISA pre-emption

Posted On: Oct. 29, 2012 12:00 AM CST

SIIA appeals Michigan court ruling on ERISA pre-emption

The Self-Insurance Institute of America Inc. is appealing a federal court ruling that said the Employee Retirement Income Security Act did not pre-empt a 2011 Michigan law imposing a 1% tax on paid health care claims.

The SIIA law had challenged the law, arguing that it is barred by a provision in ERISA that pre-empts state and local laws and rules that relate to employee benefit plans.

But U.S. District Court Judge Abele Cook of the Eastern District Court of Michigan disagreed. The Michigan law “does not mandate any particular benefit structure or bind administrators to certain benefit structures,” he wrote in a ruling handed down last month.

SIIA Chief Operating Officer Michael Ferguson said the trade group is appealing the ruling “because we remain convinced that the law creates administrative obligations on self-insured group health plans, which compromise ERISA's clear intent of providing national regulatory uniformity of such plans.”

In addition, the SIIA is concerned that if the Michigan law goes unchallenged, other states will impose similar taxes, “which will compound the problem,” Mr. Ferguson added.

The SIIA is appealing to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Revenue generated by the Michigan 1% tax, which is used to help fund the state's Medicaid program, is paid by health insurers offering fully insured plans, and by third-party claims administrators and stop-loss insurers, in the case of self-funded plans.