Supreme Court Ruling Is Win for Privacy;
 Limits Patient Data States Can Collect



For Immediate Release
March 1, 2016

Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096, ext. 102, or Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, 


Supreme Court Ruling Is Win for Privacy;
Limits Patient Data States Can Collect


Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom: SCOTUS Ruling Step

Forward for Medical Privacy in America


ST. PAUL, Minn.—The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that certain states cannot collect insurance claims data from employers’ self-funded insurance plans, thus keeping patients’ medical information more private.

Twila Brase, president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF,, a patient-centered national health freedom organization based in St. Paul, Minn., existing to protect health care choices, individualized patient care, and medical and genetic privacy rights, says the case involved a powerful fact: “He who holds the data makes the rules.” 

SCOTUS ruled in favor of Liberty Mutual in Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., stating that Vermont’s all-payer claims database is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to the extent it seeks data from employer-sponsored health plans. Additionally, the Court ruled, efforts by Vermont and at least 17 other states to gather and analyze the data conflict with federal law covering reporting requirements for employer health plans, according to the Associated Press.

Brase issued the following statement soon after the ruling:

“Today is a good day for medical privacy in America,” Brase said. “The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right of a self-insured company to refuse to share medical claims data with the State of Vermont. No longer must the insurer administering the employer’s self-funded insurance plan submit ‘data about the health care services providers to Vermonters regardless of whether they are treated in Vermont or out-of-state and about non-Vermonters who are treated in Vermont.’

“We expect today’s 6-2 decision in support of Liberty Mutual and against the state of Vermont to encourage every self-insured company in the nation, large and small, to refuse to share employee health data from private patient medical records with state health officials in the 18 states with all-payer-claims database laws,” she continued. “We also expect that the other 32 states that are or may be considering legislation to build these intrusive state databases will reconsider those decisions. Hundreds of thousands of employees will have their privacy protected by today’s Supreme Court decision. The state databases, which are intended to include all health care services except those paid for in cash, will be missing a major part of the state’s population in their statistical claims. Last year, more than 3 in 5 U.S. companies were self-insured, Modern Healthcare reports. 

“We call on state legislators to dismantle the all-payer-claims databases and database laws that exist in 18 states today.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 6-2 decision, where he said that the potential for a patchwork of different state regulations could impose major financial and administrative burdens on health care providers and could subject them to wide-ranging liability, reported the Associated Press.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was joined in her dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

According to Modern Healthcare, “Most Americans with employer-provided insurance are in self-funded plans, and that’s been the case since at least 2010. Roughly 60 percent of members at Aetna, Anthem and Cigna are in ASO plans. More than 3 in 5 U.S. companies are self-insured, and self-insurance is almost universal among large employers. About 91 percent of people in companies with 5,000 or more workers were in self-insured plans in 2014, compared with 15 percent of people in companies with fewer than 200 workers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Fifteen years ago, only 62 percent of workers in companies with 5,000 or more employees were in self-insured plans.”

CCHF had previously communicated that the recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia could impact the case.

Heard on 368 stations nationwide, including nearly 200 on the American Family Radio Network and 100 on the Bott Radio Network, CCHF’s daily, one-minute radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, helps listeners learn more about the agenda behind health care initiatives, as well as steps they can take to protect their health care choices, rights and privacy. The one-minute program is free for stations to run; for details, contact Michael Hamilton at or (610) 584-1096 or (215) 519-4838.

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