ERISA: Health Resources for States

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Updated: July 2015

ERISA, which stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, shields so-called "self-funded insuring" businesses from state and local regulation of the benefits they offer workers, including health insurance. Without the law, national companies in particular could achieve less uniformity in their benefit plans.  But that uniformity comes at a cost: The law limits the abilities of state legislatures to regulate many types of health insurance, it restricts the kinds of remedies that states can authorize (such as a patient's right to independent appeal of denials or to see specialists) and it can limit the ability of states to experiment with novel ideas for health care solutions. 

The federal health reform law (ACA) made some fundamental changes in the relationship between the federal and state governments regarding health insurance and health benefits.  However, most of those changes were in new statutes rather than direct amendments to or repeal of the existing ERISA statute. It is anticipated that future interpretations and possible litigation will clarify the role of ERISA effective 2014 and beyond.  See "Potential Impact of the ACA" cited below.

The following are resources, analyses and commentary on ERISA and the states.  Several items are recently published; others are archive items but still of use for background research.

Online Resources


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