AG Gansler won't appeal Fair Share Health Care case

John O'Brien Apr. 16, 2007, 2:00pm

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The future of employer-provided health care will be left up to lawmakers and not judges, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said Monday.

Gansler said he will not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a January decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond that says last year's Fair Share Health Care Act is preempted by the federal law ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act).

The Fair Share Act required employers with more than 10,000 employees to spend the equivalent of 8 percent (6 percent for non-profits) of their payroll on employee health benefits or to pay into a state healthcare fund. The Retail Industry Leaders Association sued the state on behalf of Wal-Mart.

"After very careful and thorough consideration, the Office of the Attorney General will not seek review before the Supreme Court on the Fair Share Health Care Act," Gansler said. "The reason we are not seeking review is not because we think the law is unconstitutional.

"It is clearly constitutional and two courts have so held. What the courts found was that the law was preempted by a very broad federal law called ERISA. We believe that seeking further review would not be

Gansler added that the situation isn't one that can be solved, from his perspective, in court.

"Our decision today will make the issue of access to health care for more Marylanders one of the dominant issues during next year's legislative session," Gansler said.

Thirteen states proposed similar laws to Maryland's. They include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington.

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