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View Full Version : Congressman Kucinich Proposes "Changing ERISA"


Roy Harmon
03-13-2010, 08:44 PM
It has surprised me that ERISA preemption has largely escaped attention among the "reformers". I mean, with all the comment and complaints you see in the cases and among the plaintiffs' bar, you would think someone would recognize that a tweak of ERISA Section 514 could really make a lot of difference, including particularly opening up the States for their single payer experiments.

I'm not a fan of this solution personally, but it would be at least as easy a push as the present health care bills have been. Anyway, there is an advocate of such a change in ERISA, Congressman Kucinich, and here is an excerpt (http://blogs.alternet.org/rossl/2010/03/13/kucinich-tells-his-side-of-the-story-on-democracy-now/) on this point:

There are two things that Kucinich is demanding, and apparently trying to get by building up pressure, from the health care bill. It remains unclear if he would vote for a bill with just one of the two.

One is, of course, a strong public option, a subject which has been covered to death. The other is a way to change ERISA so that it does not interfere with implementing single payer systems on a state by state basis.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, President Obama says that the Senate bill does include single-payer language. He was talking about a provision by Senator Bernie Sanders which would allow states to use federal money to set up a single-payer system years down the road. What do you think of that?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, it provides for a waiver; it doesn’t grant the waiver. And it takes effect 2017. But by then, we’ll already have a system in place that will be very difficult to move out of. And it doesn’t cure the attack that insurance companies can make on state plans using the Employee—the ERISA Act. And so, my amendment that was passed in committee would have protected states from illegal challenge by insurance companies. The Sanders amendment doesn’t do that, so you still have the problem that, no matter what reforms are enacted, can be knocked out. I mean, I talked to the President personally about this. I’ve met with the President three times on this bill. The White House knows my position.