The Obama administration’s chief lawyer has permission to weigh in on a U.S. Supreme Court case involving health benefits problems at the U.S. Department of Labor.
The Supreme Court has given Elena Kagan, the solicitor general for the administration, permission to participate in oral argument as a friend of the court and for divided argument in connection with Health Care Service Corp. vs. Juli A. Pollitt et al., a case involving the “federal preemption” provision of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act.
The case involves a question about whether the U.S. Department of Labor mishandled an employee’s health benefits arrangements or if a health carrier erred.
FEHBA normally blocks efforts by states to oversee federal employees’ health benefits, but a 3-judge panel at the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2009 that, as a result of earlier Supreme Court rulings, “federal law does not completely occupy the field of health-insurance coverage for federal workers.”
The Labor Department may have paid Health Care Service Corp., Chicago, only for family coverage for Juli Pollitt, a federal employee, even though she had asked for family coverage, according to court pleadings.