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Borzi Confirmed as Head of Employee Benefits Security Administration

By SHRM Online staff  7/28/2009
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Phyllis C. Borzi

Phyllis C. Borzi was confirmed on July 10, 2009, as Assistant Secretary of Labor of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). She replaces former Assistant Secretary Bradford Campbell, who was appointed to the post in August 2007.

As agency head, Borzi oversees the administration, regulation and enforcement of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). EBSA oversees nearly 700,000 private-sector retirement plans, approximately 2.5 million health plans, and other welfare benefit plans that provide benefits to approximately 150 million Americans.

Previously, Borzi was a research professor at George Washington University Medical Center in the Department of Health Policy’s School of Public Health and Health Services. In that position, she was involved in research and policy analysis involving employee benefit plans, the uninsured, managed care, and legal barriers to the development of health information technology. In addition, she was of counsel with the Washington, D.C. law firm of O’Donoghue & O’Donoghue LLP, specializing in ERISA and other legal issues affecting employee benefit plans, including pensions and retirement savings, health plans, and discrimination based on age or disability.

From 1979 to 1995, Borzi served as pension and employee benefit counsel for the House of Representatives subcommittee on Labor-Management Relations of the Committee on Education and Labor. In 1993, she served as a member of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton's Presidential Task Force on Health Care Reform.

View Expressed on ERISA Pre-emption

In 2006, Borzi weighed in on the controversial so-called "Wal-Mart" legislation that the Maryland General Assembly enacted Jan. 12, 2006 — requiring any employer with more than 10,000 employees that did not spend at least 8 percent of its payroll on employee health care costs to pay the difference to the state's Fair Share Health Care Fund. As HR Magazine reported, in her capacity as professor at George Washington University, Borzi wrote a letter to Jonathan Parker, national director of Service Employees International Union's Americans for Health Care, in which she opined that ERISA would not pre-empt the Maryland law. However, in February 2007, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court judgment striking down the Maryland law, holding that it was pre-empted by ERISA.

Borzi is a charter member and former president of the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel and served on its board of governors from 2000 to 2008; former member of the advisory committee of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.; former member of the advisory board of the Pension Research Council, The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania; and former member of the Board of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER). In 2008, she was appointed by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and served as a public member of the Administrative Committee for the Goodyear retiree health trust.

Borzi has published numerous articles on ERISA, health care law and policy and retirement security issues. 

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