What Do Coalitions Need to Counter Preemption: A Strategic Assessment of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Preemption Work

What Do Coalitions Need to Counter Preemption: A Strategic Assessment of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Preemption Work

Published: May 19, 2021
Publisher: Mathematica
Associated Project

What Coalitions Need to Counter Preemption: A Strategic Assessment of RWJF’s Preemption Work

Time frame: 2020–2021

Prepared for:

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Lisa Schottenfeld

Lello Guluma

Michelle Sou

Key Findings
  • RWJF-funded grantees played a key role in strengthening and broadening the national preemption ecosystem of actors by investing in coordination efforts among existing eco-system actors and reaching new groups with preemption messages.
  • Coalitions wanted to shift from playing defense to taking a more comprehensive, proactive approach to combating preemption. Despite these contributions, the existing eco­system does not include organizations with the expertise required to fully support the more com­prehensive approach that state-level coalitions wish to advance for their preemption efforts.
  • One potential barrier to more meaningful engagement in the national ecosystem is that groups held varying perceptions of how to advance equity in their work and how power would have to shift within the national ecosystem and state coalitions to achieve this.
  • Building a national movement to better support state-level preemption opposition will require advancing equity considerations in how the national ecosystem is structured and operates.
SEIU Local march in NYC

Preemption is a legislative or regulatory action a state or federal government enacts to eliminate or reduce the authority of a lower level of government over a given issue. In recent years, state-level preemption has increasingly been wielded as a tool to suppress local-level policies, many of which aim to promote equity and address the social determinants of health. This assessment documents the ways in which Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funded grantees supported state-level preemption opposition by building, strengthening, and broadening a national ecosystem of organizations to collectively support cross-issue coalitions as well as strategies to further support these coalitions as part of a more proactive approach to preemption opposition. Our interviews with multiple preemption stakeholders at both the national and state levels provided RWJF with insights on how they could sharpen their future investments to strengthen state-level preemption opposition efforts and further their mission of building a Culture of Health.

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