Thursday, November 05th, 2009 | Author:

Let’s say your surgeon forgets to take the sponge out of your belly before he sews you back together, and you get a nasty infection. You can sue.

Or your hospital gives you the wrong medication and it results in serious problems.  You can sue.

Or your insurance company denies treatment that your doctor and another doctor say you need, resulting in bad consequences.  You can can’t sue.

That’s right.  You can’t sue.

It seems that section 514 (a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 provides immunity to insurance companies for any decisions they make that results in injury or death. Washington pols from Ted Kennedy to Harry Reid have denounced this loophole over the years, but here’s their big chance, right?  They can overturn the ERISA section 514 loophole in their health care reform bill, right?  Wrong.

From a press release by US Congressman John Shadegg:

Yet, on page 49 of H.R. 3200, on page 140 of Pelosi’s current bill, H.R. 3962, and on page 56 of the Baucus bill, rather than repealing Section 514 of ERISA and giving the Corcorans and thousands of other victims like them a remedy, the Pelosi and Reid bills preserve, protect, and extend Section 514 leaving millions of potential workers and union members with no remedy if they are injured or killed by the denial of coverage by a union or employer health care plan:

Page 140 of H.R. 3962 reads: ‘Nothing in paragraphs (1) or (2) shall be construed as affecting the application of section 514 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.’

Page 56 of the Baucus bill is identical: ‘(3) Nothing in this part shall be construed to affect or modify the provisions of section 514 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 with respect to group health plans.’

This is no accident, folks. Shadegg said at a news conference Wednesday “that his amendment offered in the House Energy and Commerce Committee to strike the ERISA language from the House bill was ruled out of order by Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)”

Out of order.  Does all the democratic rhetoric about protecting the people sound a little out of order?

Category: health care, hypocrisy
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3 Responses
  1. Rebecca says:


    See you at the flagpole…

  2. DeepBlueSea says:

    Is this immunity to the insurance companies in the current bill that passed last week?

  3. akagaga says:

    That’s an excellent question, DeepblueSea, but I haven’t been able to find the answer. While there was a lot of chatter about it in November, I haven’t been able to find one thing that addresses the bill that was actually passed.

    If you find something, I’d be really grateful if you let me know.