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Supreme Court Holds That Pension Plans Maintained By Religiously-Affiliated Health Systems Are Not Subject To ERISA

June 5, 2017 | No Comments
Posted by Beth Christian

On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision holding that pension plans operated by church-affiliated hospitals qualify as “church plans” under the law.  The lawsuit was initiated by Advocate Health Care Network and two other religiously- affiliated health care systems (including Saint Peter’s Health Care System in New Jersey), which argued that their pension plans were not subject to ERISA under a specific ERISA exemption applicable to plans which qualify as church plans.  In a unanimous decision, the  Supreme Court held that  pension plans maintained by the health care systems qualified as church plans because the plans were maintained by organizations  “controlled by or associated with a church” under ERISA.  As a result, such plans will no longer be required to maintain compliance with ERISA requirements.


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