Group Challenges Maryland Health Care Law
The Retail Industry Leaders Association on Friday filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore over alleging that the Maryland Fair Share Health Care Act illegally requires Wal-Mart to increase spending on employee health care, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Wyatt, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/24).
The law, enacted on Jan. 12, will require employers in Maryland with 10,000 or more employees to spend at least 8% of payroll costs on health care or contribute to a state fund for the uninsured. Wal-Mart is the only employer in Maryland that the law will affect (California Healthline, 2/8).
The law will take effect in January 2007. RILA, a retail industry group that includes Wal-Mart, argues that the law unfairly targets only Wal-Mart.
Eugene Scalia, an attorney for RILA and son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, said, "This law is highly discriminatory. This was intended and crafted to affect just one company."
Gary Kuc, Maryland assistant attorney general, said that the law "doesn't mandate benefits" because Wal-Mart could contribute to the state fund rather than spend more on health care.
Maryland officials estimate that Wal-Mart would have to contribute $6 million to the state fund annually.
Kuc also said that the law is valid because the state has an interest in a reduction of the number of uninsured residents (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/24).