Blogging Employee Benefits

January 13, 2006

Maryland Requires Wal-Mart Healthcare Contribution

Filed under: ERISA Preemption, Healthcare, Legislation - State — Fuguerre @ 9:08 am

The Maryland state legislature has voted to override Republican Governor Ehrlich’s veto of the Fair Share Health Care Act [SB 790, HB 1284], the so-called “Wal-Mart bill.” The state legislation will require companies with more than 10,000 employees in Maryland to pay at least 8 percent of payroll (6 percent for non-profit employers) toward employee healthcare, beginning in 2007. A large employer that fails to meet the cost standard must pay the deficit amount into a state-run fund.

Of four employers that meet the headcount threshold, only Wal-Mart is said to currently be paying healthcare costs that fail to meet the 8% standard. Johns Hopkins University, Giant Food, and Northrop Grumman are large Maryland employers that meet the legislation’s healthcare cost standard.

Some reading –

  • Statement from Maryland Governor Ehrlich prior to the veto override: “This is the first step toward government-run health care. Maryland would be the first state in America with a government-imposed, arbitrary payroll tax based on a private employer’s health care expenditures.”
  • Wal-Mart responds to the veto override: “This vote was never about health care. This was about partisan politics in the Maryland gubernatorial race. In allowing a bad bill to become a bad law, the General Assembly took a giant step backward and placed the special interests of Washington, D.C. union leaders ahead of the well-being of the people they serve.”
  • Teamsters look beyond Maryland: “Enacting Fair Share Health Care legislation in state houses across the nation tops the Teamsters’ legislative agenda. ‘While we celebrate today’s victory, the Teamsters recognize that this is only the beginning of a nationwide effort,’ Hoffa said. ‘We’re going to bring our message to state capitols from coast to coast — Stop Wal-Mart welfare, enact Fair Share Health Care!'”
  • Workplace Prof Blog opines on ERISA preemption: “[I]t all depends on whether Wal-Mart self-insures its health plans. If it does, the deemer clause should lead to ERISA preemption of the state law; if not (that is, it insures its health plans through another company), it should be saved from ERISA preemption as a law that regulates insurance under ERISA’s Savings Clause.”

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