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Maryland not challenging Wal-Mart health care preemption ruling

[JURIST] Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler [official profile] said Tuesday that Maryland will not challenge a decision [PDF opinion] by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] holding that the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) [text] preempts the Maryland Fair Share Health Care Fund Act [PDF text]. The act was part of a state attempt to force Wal-Mart [corporate website, JURIST news archive] to contribute more for employee health care. In a 2-1 ruling in January, the court upheld [JURIST report] a district court ruling [JURIST report] which determined that the Maryland law violates ERISA by not allowing Wal-Mart to create a uniform employee health benefit program nationwide. Maryland is now planning to look to other states as models, such as Massachusetts. The Massachusetts health care plan includes a private insurance exchange and requires that businesses help pay for the system.

The Maryland law would have required companies with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least eight percent on employee health care, or pay the difference of that amount into the state Medicaid fund. The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) [trade website], of which Wal-Mart is a member, filed a challenge to the health care law [JURIST report] last year, arguing that the law is preempted by the federal ERISA, and that the law violates the equal protection clause of the constitution. The Baltimore Sun has more.

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