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NOTE: This article first appeared in the January 23, 2006, edition of SoapboxWeekly.com.

Maryland Wal-Mart Law Is Dangerous Intrusion of Government Into Private Business

It was reported in the January 13, 2006, edition of Newsday, in a news brief entitled “Maryland Passes 'Wal-Mart' Bill”, that the State of Maryland has passed, in an override of a veto by the state's governor, “a first-in-the-nation state requirement that Wal-Mart Stores spend more on employee health care”. The article states, “The bill 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's Medicaid fund.” The article also states that support for the measure is partly due to a sense that Wal-Mart is taking advantage of government health insurance because some of its workers are not paid enough to be able to afford the company's health insurance.

This law is nothing more than extortion on the part of the state government against private employers, of which Wal-Mart is one. The government is saying to Wal-Mart and private companies like it, “Either pay your employees more health insurance or pay the government for not doing so.”

One of the ironies of this extortion on the part of the government is that the health-insurance crisis that we have in this country is due in large part to the government. The government is guilty of unfairly insuring some people at the expense of taxpayers as a whole. As a result, there is an unfair health-insurance-coverage continuum in America in which some people get carte blanche coverage while others get nothing. And one of the worst parts about the system is that it provides for a great number of “tweeners”, who neither can afford to buy health insurance themselves nor can qualify for aid from the government. And now, to add insult to injury, the government is imposing extortionist tactics on businesses.

The solution is for the federal government to enact a program in which every American, regardless of his economic status, is covered by the government for necessary health care while he is responsible for coverage for care beyond that which is medically necessary. Such a system would not only be fair, but it would also save the federal government money. And it would prevent the government's imposition of oppressive measures against private businesses.