In the United States, state and local public health policies play a fundamental role in innovation and progress. Preemption, by which Congress or the state legislatures limit the authority of lower jurisdictions, can eliminate the benefits of state and local policy initiatives. Preemption can also have a negative impact on enforcement, civic engagement, and grassroots movement building.
In June 2011, the Institute of Medicine published a groundbreaking report on policy and law that considered preemption as a crosscutting issue in public health. The Institute of Medicine recommended that federal and state policy makers “should set minimum standards...allowing states and localities to further protect the health and safety of their inhabitants,” and “should avoid language that hinders public health action.”
The Preemption Framework is a tool to support effective decision making by helping the public health field anticipate, assess, and, if necessary, counter preemptive policy proposals. We review the consequences of preemption, including its potential impact on grassroots public health movements, and propose practical questions and considerations to assist decision makers in responding to preemptive proposals.