Erin Sweeney commented on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as other cases to watch in the next term that may impact employee benefits plans. The court's Burwell decision, which upheld subsidies in the ACA for purchasing health insurance on the federal exchange, did not rest on deference to an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) interpretation and instead was based on an interpretation of the statute itself. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who wrote the majority option, was "really squarely focused on the interlocking reforms that are closely intertwined in the ACA" in deciding that Congress hadn’t delegated the interpretation of the statute to an administrative agency, such as the IRS, Sweeney said.
In the ERISA case Montanile, the Court will review the tracing requirement in "third-party reimbursement cases," in which a health plan attempts to claim reimbursement for benefits it paid to an injured participant who obtained a settlement or court judgment against the injuring third party. Montanile "is going to be a very interesting case, because there is a true split in the circuits" and any decision by the Supreme Court will be "readily applicable to a lot of cases out there," Sweeney said.