Friday, December 01, 2006

Forced Coverage

Wal-Mart & Maryland are back in the news again . . . with a little bit of Massachussetts thrown in for good measure.

Attorneys for the state argued before a federal appeals court yesterday to preserve Maryland's first-in-the-nation statute to force Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to spend more on employee benefits, but lawmakers in Annapolis have already begun looking for other ways to expand health care access.

Maryland's bill, known as the Fair Share Health Care Act, drew national attention a year ago amid intensifying pressure for the giant retailer to change its business practices. But the measure was struck down in July by a lower-court judge on the grounds that it ran afoul of a federal law that promotes uniform treatment of employees

Who decides what is a "fair share"?

I have a problem when government tries to interfere with the free market commerce. Just when you thought this problem had gone away, it is back in the news.

The Maryland law required that companies with more than 10,000 workers spend at least 8 percent of their payroll for employee health care or make up the difference in an equivalent payment to the state. It was set to take effect Jan. 1, 2007. Of the four companies that size operating in the state, only Wal-Mart matched the criteria set out in the law, leading the company to charge that it had been singled out unfairly.

While unions and liberal groups cheered the measure, the bill sparked fears among businesses that government would soon force smaller employers to provide health care

And there is the rub.

Where does it stop?

Well there is MA who is taking this concept much furhter in a giant leap.

Amid the legal uncertainty, a wave of similar laws predicted by national labor unions never came to pass. Instead, attention has been focused on different approaches to expanding access that have been attempted in other states, notably Massachusetts, which enacted a near-universal coverage program that received bipartisan support.

We are already seeing signs the wheels are coming off in MA where the price tag is rapidly growing and the full effect of mandated coverage hasn't even begun.

Don'tcha just love politics?
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