ERISA is No Safe Haven for Attack on Hospital Practices
A patient brought a putative class action against the hospital where she was treated alleging breach of contract, deceit and violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act. The claims stemmed from the hospital’s billing practices and implicated her hospital admission contract and her health insurer’s participating provider organization (PPO) agreement with the hospital under which she asserted third party beneficiary status. The hospital countered that the claims were expressly preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) because the claims “relate to” her ERISA plan. On appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the court reversed dismissal of the complaint and held all of the patient’s state law claims are not expressly preempted by ERISA as the claims do not relate to her ERISA plan under federal court interpretation.