Well now, at some point, I am convinced, we are going to get the Supreme Court to weigh in on exactly when and when not states can regulate employers’ provision of health care to their employees in light of ERISA preemption. As we have discussed here on numerous occasions, the Fourth Circuit has staked out a strong position precluding states from meddling in that relationship, while a panel of the Ninth Circuit, ruling on an interlocutory matter concerning injunctive relief over the institution of a similar act by the City of San Francisco, has found that local governments have some substantial leeway in this regard despite the existence of ERISA preemption. I, and I think most other commentators, think the Fourth Circuit has the upper hand in this conflict, given the existing Supreme Court case law on preemption.
This introduction is a long way of getting to the point of noting that a collection of businesses aggrieved by the San Francisco act may be speeding up the timetable for the Supreme Court’s consideration of this issue, at least to some extent, as they have now asked the Supreme Court to set aside the Ninth Circuit panel’s conclusion that the city’s act was not preempted and can go forward at this time. The whole story on this event is here.