The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Friday, January 13, 2006

THE OLD LINE STATE JUST GOT A LITTLE HEALTHIER

Cheers to the Maryland State Legislature for overriding Ehrlich's veto of their Wal Mart health care bill.
Maryland has become the first state in the nation to require Wal-Mart to spend more on employee health care or pay the difference into the state's Medicaid fund. Similar laws may be coming elsewhere.

The measure approved Thursday requires companies with more than 10,000 Maryland employees to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on employee health care or pay the difference into the state-supported Medicaid program. Of the state's large employers, only Wal-Mart spends less than 8 percent on health care.

Labor unions, who heavily pushed for the bill, said they would pursue similar legislation in at least 30 other states, focusing first on Colorado, Connecticut and Washington.

"The tide is turning because working people are not just fed up — they are ready to get active to set our country in a different direction, one state at a time," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a statement.

Maryland's Democratic-controlled Legislature overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

Critics of the legislation called it a dangerous precedent that ultimately would cost Maryland jobs.

The company employs about 17,000 Maryland residents at more than 40 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores, and about 1.3 million people nationwide.

A Wal-Mart executive called the bill a poorly worded mandate for a single company. Mia Masten, a director of corporate affairs, said the bill "could be the beginning of a slippery slope."

"We believe everyone should have access to affordable health insurance, although this legislation does nothing to accomplish that," said Masten, who said the retailing giant may partially pull out of the state if the bill becomes law.

She said Wal-Mart was unfairly singled out because of "partisan politics" and that Medicaid's problems go beyond the behavior of one company.
Cost the state jobs? Somehow, I have my doubts that Wal Mart will be closing any stores over this.

California had a chance to be on the leading edge of this campaign, via a ballot initiative in 2004, but it was narrowly defeated.

Anyhow, we can look forward to a bullshit press release from everyone's favorite corporation about "the need to stay competitive".

TBogg has more, including some early whining from the Club for Growth.

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