Blogging Employee Benefits

July 20, 2006

ERISA Exempts Maryland Wal-Mart Law

Filed under: Healthcare, Litigation — Fuguerre @ 6:47 am

If employers are faced with the choice of paying a sum of money to the State or offering an equal sum of money to their employees in the form of health care, no rational employer would choose to pay the State.

Arguing that Maryland’s Fair Share Health Care Fund Act presents an employer with a Hobson’s choice aimed directly at imposing a substantive mandate of health care, the Maryland district court has ruled that law exempted by ERISA. [Retail Industry Leaders Association v. Fielder, JFM-06-316; Order] Effectively aimed exclusively at Wal-Mart, the law would by 1/1/2007 have required non-governmental non-profit employers of 10,000 or more employees within the state to spend at least 8% of wages toward health insurance costs, else pay into a general state fund for low-income residents’ health care.

But expect this decision to be appealed, watch for decisions in similar cases to the north, and keep tabs on many other states with comparable legislation under consideration.  This is but an early battle in a very very long war ahead.

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