ERISA: Not an Obstacle, but the Foundation

USA Today has a front page story, “Health plans up against U.S. law” (although the online version says “Universal health care plans…”), casting ERISA as a roadblock to state and city health-care “reform” plans. The sidebar on 3A then adds business to the list of obstacles, “Businesses fight plans to ensure health care.” The whole premise is off the mark.

The notion that ERISA was intended to “shield” businesses from varying rules and thus impede health care reform is ridiculous. Employers voluntarily provide quality health care to more than 100 million employees in this country. ERISA simply facilitates this process and allows employers to offer these benefits uniformly to employees who live and work in multiple states.

Erode ERISA and you eliminate the primary source of quality care for millions of Americans. How is that for appropriate reform? Complex rules and administrative constraints – which would prevail without ERISA — make benefits less affordable for employees and their dependents.

Earlier: San Francisco Health Care: Risk and ERISA

Jeri Gillespie is vice president of Human Resources Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

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