This just in…

Today the U.S. Supreme Court broadened the application of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s religious exemption provision.

The exemption now applies to benefit plans maintained by church affiliates, regardless of whether an actual church established the plan. Advocate Health Care Network, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System and Dignity Health were before the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn lower court rulings holding that the exemption applied only when actual churches established the benefit plan. The hospitals contended a 1980 amendment to ERISA clarified that church-affiliated organizations, not just churches, could maintain such a plan and still be exempt.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the unanimous opinion.

The ruling provides hospitals with more freedom from ERISA’s plan requirements.

More analysis on the ruling will be provided in subsequent posts.