Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Jersey Enacts Big Box Health Care Disclosure Bill

NewjerseyFrom a press relase (should be posted soon on this site) from New Jersey Governor John Corzine: 

Governor Jon S. Corzine has signed legislation . . . to force the disclosure of the names of large employers that have inordinate numbers of workers enrolled in the NJ FamilyCare subsidized health-care program.

Mounting evidence suggests that some large employers like Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers are trying to maximize profits at the expense of New Jersey taxpayers who foot the bill for NJ FamilyCare," said [Reed] Gusciora (D-Mercer). "It's inconceivable that the failure of these well-heeled employers to provide health insurance to their workers is costing taxpayers more than $100 million a year."

The new law (A932) directs the state Department of Human Services to create an annual report on employers that have 50 or more employees enrolled in NJ FamilyCare. The reports will include employer information, the type of insurance offered, the number of employees and dependents enrolled in FamilyCare, and the annual cost to the state for covering employees, employee spouses and employee dependents.

The measure requires DHS to provide the annual report by February 1 to the Governor and Legislative Committees. The comprehensive study will not include the names of FamilyCare enrollees and will be used to evaluate the decline in employer-provided health insurance statewide.

As far as ERISA preemption, I am going to say this type of bill which merely requires disclosure, but does not compel these companies to do anything, is not interfering with the orderly administration and management of employee benefit plans and therefore, preemption should not be a problem.

Of course, if New Jersey utilized the findings from these disclosures to try to put additional obligations on these companies to pay for health care, I think then your in the Maryland realm of things and ERISA preemption may be a real possibility.

I like the idea of the disclosure law in some ways because bringing to light the practices of these highly profitable companies and the way they handle employee health care maybe can shame some of them in doing what's right, health care-wise, for their employees.

Hat Tip: Blog Reader Steven Sholk


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