SCOTUS: Retiree Health Not Guaranteed

The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has unanimously ruled on Monday that because a union contract does not explicitly guarantee the continuation of retiree health benefits then retirees are not assured of these benefits.  The details of the case M&G Polymers USA v. Tackett can be read in the link above.  The opinion was written by Justice Clarence Thomas saying “Courts should not construe ambiguous writings to create lifetime promises” and “When a contract is silent as to the duration of retiree benefits,” he wrote, “a court may not infer that the parties intended those benefits to vest for life.” One of the courts liberals, Ruth Bader Ginsburg in writing a concurrence wrote “No rule requires ‘clear and express’ language in order to show that parties intended health care benefits to vest,” she wrote.

The court sent the case back to a lower court to review.  With the court set to rule on subsidies for low income users of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this summer this may be a sign of which way they would rule.  The Supreme Court did uphold the ACA but made it optional for states to implement Medicaid expansion.

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