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The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has formally asked a federal court to strike down Maryland's mandated health benefit statute, saying that the Maryland statute is preempted by federal law as well as being unconstitutional.

As previously reported by MNB, RILA has filed a pair of lawsuits to challenge laws that would require retailers of a certain size – in most cases, Wal-Mart - to spend a specific amount of money on health care for employees or face fines. The suits challenge existing laws covering the state of Maryland and in Suffolk, County, New York.

The Maryland statute, which became law over the veto of the governor and despite enormous lobbying on the part of Wal-Mart, says that companies with more than 10,000 employees in the state must spend the at least eight percent of their total payroll cost on health care. If they don’t meet that threshold, they are then fined an equivalent amount, which is put into the state Medicaid fund.

The reasoning behind the law is that employees not provided with ample and affordable health insurance by their employers are then forced to seek medical assistance at the public trough, and that in essence, taxpayers are underwriting health coverage for Wal-Mart employees. However, Wal-Mart has consistently debated that interpretation of its health care policies.
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