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The last three years we have seen a slew of cases in which courts ruled that church-affiliated plans were not exempt from ERISA because they were not established by a church.  (See my prior article on lower court findings here.)

Well, now the Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue, and ruled in favor of the church-affiliates .

In deciding Advocate Health Care Network v Stapleton (6/5/17)   the Supreme Court extended the "established by a church" criteria to include plans established by "principle-purpose organizations". This ruling is a blessing for religious hospitals, which would have faced funding shortfalls of up to $4 billion if they were subject to ERISA.

But is the issue really resolved? I don't see how a church-affiliated hospital qualified as a "primary-purpose organization" under the language of the statute. Maybe the pension committee of that hospital is the primary-purpose organization?


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