March 15, 2013; Alicia Freese; VTDigger
Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, who co-sponsored the legislation, said it’s an important step in an “ongoing process” of “peeling back the layers of discrimination.”
A federal law limits the level of parity that the Vermont Legislature can achieve in this arena, however.
That law — the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) — governs group health plans offered by employers in the private industry. If an employer is self-insured, meaning they don’t contract with an insurance company, they fall under ERISA and are not subject to state insurance law.
The bill the House passed today only requires employers to meet the health insurance standard “to the extent permitted by federal law.”
Even though the bill still leaves room for out-of-state employers to not offer the parity in coverage, Pearson argued that putting this law on the books would make them more vulnerable both to legal concerns and public opinion backlash. “It would be a front page story,” Pearson said.
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