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The Employee Retirement Income Security Act is a complex piece of legislation that Congress passed in 1974 to ensure that the pensions of private sector employees had stability and protection. The legislation only applies to private companies, leaving public employees' pensions unprotected. When the juggernaut Studebaker-Packard Corporation folded in 1964, its employees lost pensions that the company had promised them. Spurred by the need to protect employees from having their pensions stripped in similar cases, Congress passed ERISA and compelled private companies with pension plans to meet certain baseline requirements that the Department of Labor enforces. Its complex nature owes partially to the fact that since the McCarren Ferguson Act, insurance has been in the domain of the states. The legislation has been subject to vigorous legislation in state and federal courts and it is uncertain how exactly it will interact with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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