UMass Law Professor Elizabeth McCuskey led a session of the Oregon Legislature's Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care, devoted to the issue of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s preemption for states pursuing single-payer and public option programs. The session focused on McCuskey’s research about how states could pursue their own single-payer programs despite ERISA’s preemption of state laws relating to employer-sponsored health benefits. McCuskey has published articles on the subject in the Penn Law Review and in Health Affairs with co-author Erin Fuse Brown.
The Oregon Legislature created the Task Force in 2019 and charged it with recommending a universal health care system for the state. In addition to state legislators, the Task Force includes licensed medical professionals and members representing local governments, tribes, public health services, and other community stakeholders. At the session, Professors McCuskey and Fuse Brown explained how Supreme Court precedent on ERISA preemption influences legislative design of state health reforms and led a discussion with Task Force members. The Task Force is scheduled to submit its recommendations to the legislature this month.