A March 2, 2016 article published in Bloomberg BNA features quotes from Carmel Shachar, Clinical Instructor at the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.
The article, Justices Kill State Effort to Get Data From ERISA Plans, examines the Supreme Court’s decision in Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, which held that ERISA preempted a Vermont statute requiring health insurers, including self-funded employer-sponsored plans, to submit health care claims data to a state database. The ruling will make it difficult for states to compel self-funded employer-sponsored health plans to report their health care claims data. The decision today impacts the development of All Payer Claims Databases, which are often used for research into health care delivery and cost trends.
The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) submitted an amicus curiae brief on behalf of itself and sixteen academic researchers and professors, emphasizing the importance this data has to health care services research, including understanding cost trends and improving health care delivery and treatment. In part because of the unique nature of this data, CHLPI argued, ERISA should not preempt the development of these types of databases. Although the majority of the court held that ERISA preempted the Vermont statute, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed with the Center that ERISA and the Vermont statute concern themselves with different objectives and therefore there should be no preemption. Justice Ginsburg cited theamicus brief submitted by CHLPI three times in her dissent.
“We believe that the availability of reliable health care data is crucial for addressing key problems in our health care system, such as disparities in access to care and increases in medical costs to consumers.” said Robert Greenwald, Clinical Professor of Law and Faculty Director of CHLPI. Carmel Shachar, a CHLPI Clinical Instructor notes, “Certainly we agree with Justice Ginsburg that the Vermont statute does not impermissibly intrude on ERISA. We applaud her concern for the impact this ruling will have on the development of comprehensive health care claims databases and the important research that depends on this data.”
Excerpt from the article:
Turning to the practical effect of the ruling, Shachar said the decision will “significantly affect” the ability of databases like Vermont’s to be useful. That’s because it effectively bars them from seeking information about the large universe of individuals who receive health coverage through an employer-sponsored plan, she said.
That will have important practical ramifications, Shachar said, because the exclusion of employer-sponsored plan data will make it more difficult to perform high-quality health-care research.
“You’re really undercutting the ability of these databases to be useful,” she said.