Employee Benefit Plans Feel the Impact of Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org., the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with limited exceptions. A federal trial court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had found the Act to be unconstitutional based on the Supreme Court’s rulings in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Penn. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). In Dobbs, the Supreme Court expressly overruled Roe and Casey.
The Dobbs decision opened the door for states to enact laws prohibiting abortion or imposing restrictions on abortion, previously impermissible under Roe and Casey. Many of these laws already have gone into effect or soon will go into effect, which raises various issues for sponsors of employee benefit plans.
For instance, many employers are considering assisting employees who need to travel to other states to access abortion services. Some state laws intend to impose civil or criminal sanctions on anyone, including nonresidents, who assists another person in obtaining an abortion.
Employers also must consider how to furnish these benefits in terms of tax treatment, limiting the amount and type of benefits provided, and whether to use an existing or a new plan. No matter which approach employers choose, they must take steps to comply with group health plan requirements, including ERISA.
Employers who provide travel benefits for abortion access for employees also must ensure that existing health plan benefits comply with other rules, such as HIPAA and mental health parity requirements. Questions also exist about whether ERISA and other federal laws preempt the various state laws that govern access to abortion services. Employers are urged get advice from legal counsel as they consider their options in light of the Dobbs decision.
HBL has experience in all areas of benefits and employment law, offering a comprehensive solution to all your business benefits and HR/employment needs. We help ensure you are in compliance with the complex requirements of ERISA and the IRS code, as well as those laws that impact you and your employees. Together, we reduce your exposure to potential legal or financial penalties. Learn more by calling 470-571-1007.

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Hall Benefits Law, LLC

HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.
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