October 6, 2020

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the national association representing pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), fought to protect access to affordable, quality prescription drug coverage in front of the United States Supreme Court in oral arguments for Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA).

Argued by former Solicitor General Seth Waxman, PCMA’s case builds on decades of important federal protections and Supreme Court precedent. A decision found in favor of Rutledge threatens the employer-provided coverage upon which hundreds of millions of Americans rely.

At the heart of Rutledge is a misguided Arkansas law that would unravel federal protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). If applied to employer plans, this Arkansas law and others (that often contradict each other) in states across the country will create an unworkable patchwork of regulation around prescription drug benefits. Congress reserved regulation over employer plans to the federal government; if employers are saddled with an additional state regulatory burden, businesses will have to spend more dollars on administrative services and compliance, increasing the cost of care for job creators and their employees alike.

“More than 266 million Americans rely on the prescription drug benefits PBMs administer, and now more than ever we’re committed to protecting accessible, affordable health care,” said PCMA President and CEO JC Scott. “Today showed, yet again, the strength of our arguments and the importance of federal preemption to ensure employers are able to provide the best possible drug benefits for employees, no matter where they live and work.”

In 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit Court found in favor of PCMA, saying ERISA preempted the Arkansas law because it “both relates to and has a connection with employee benefit plans.” ERISA was designed to ensure employers would be able to deliver uniform health plans and other benefits to all employees, regardless of location. A ruling in favor of Rutledge would make it impossible for employers to design quality, innovative and affordable benefit plans that cover all their employees equally.

Earlier this year, multiple amici in the case joined PCMA with briefs supporting employers’ abilities to administer nationally uniform benefit programs for their employees, and many released recent communications in advance of today’s arguments.

That includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said Rutledge “threaten[s] to upend the backbone of the employer-sponsored insurance program and the coverage that American workers have come to rely on during the latest public health emergency,” and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), which warned “If this case goes the wrong way, health care costs will be raised for millions of families at a time when everyone is desperately working to lower them.”