Wednesday, April 18, 2007
In Retail Industry Leaders Association v. Fielder, No. 06-1840 (4th Cir. Jan. 17, 2007), the 4th Circuit held that the Maryland Wal-Mart Bill, which would have required Wal-Mart to pay 8% of its payroll toward employee health care costs, was preempted by ERISA. (Here's our previous post on that decision).
Now comes word that Maryland will not appeal the 4th Circuit's decision to the Supreme Court (via the Baltimore Sun):
Maryland won't challenge a federal court decision striking down the state's "Fair Share" health care act, ending a two-year effort to force Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to pay more for employee health care, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said yesterday.
Gansler - who made the announcement standing alongside representatives of the O'Malley administration, the comptroller's office and labor groups that pushed for the first-of-its-kind law - said he concluded that an appeal was likely to fail.
Even if an appeal succeeded, Gansler said, litigation could take years and delay other efforts to more directly extend coverage to the 800,000 Marylanders who lack health insurance.
Maryland officials will now head back to the drawing board and look to examples in Massachusetts and other states to determine how best to provide health care to its citizens.
From my perspective, this seems like a wise decision given the current makeup of the Supreme Court and the direction which ERISA preemption precedent points. It would be a blow to all states' efforts to engage in health care reform if a broad decision by the Supreme Court prevented state experimentation in this important area of employee benefits law.
Hat Tip: How Appealing