Representing Vermont — Healthcare Preemption

The State of Vermont
Type of Engagement
Subject Matter
U.S. Supreme Court

The Challenge

Securing Supreme Court review of a federal court decision limiting Vermont’s ability to collect information about the cost of health care.

The Engagement

Like nearly 20 other states, Vermont sought to create a healthcare database with information about the types and costs of medical services provided to state residents. To advance that objective, Vermont required all insurers to report certain information to state regulators for its database. In 2011, the Second Circuit held that Vermont’s healthcare database program was preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Stris & Maher was retained by Vermont to assist in preparing a petition seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Result

Over the objection of the plaintiff and the federal government, and despite the fact that the Court grants fewer than 70 of 8000 such petitions filed annually, our petition was granted in June 2015. It was the first ERISA pre-emption case heard by the Court in nearly 15 years. On the merits, we continued to serve as co-counsel alongside lead counsel, Bridget Asay, who at the time was the Solicitor General of Vermont. (Ms. Asay later joined Stris & Maher.) The Court ultimately held that Vermont law was preempted.

Key Case Materials

Opinion (March 1, 2016)

Oral Argument (December 2, 2015)

Our Reply Brief (co-authored with State of Vermont) (November 12, 2015)

Liberty Mutual’s Opposition Brief (October 13, 2015)

Our Opening Brief (co-authored with State of Vermont) (August 28, 2015)

Petition for Writ of Certiorari (co-authored with State of Vermont) (August 13, 2014)

Media Coverage

Supreme Court Finds ERISA Preempts State Claims Reporting (Law360, March 1, 2016) (subscription required)

Vt. Urges High Court To Overturn ERISA Preemption Finding (Law360, November 20, 2015) (subscription required)

Contraception, data-sharing among issues expected on Supreme Court docket (Modern Healthcare, October 3, 2015)

High Court to Consider ERISA Implications of Vermont Health-Care Claims Database (Bloomberg BNA, June 30, 2015)

Who owns health data? Supreme Court may try answering that question (Modern Healthcare, December 18, 2014)