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PJC Files Brief Supporting Maryland Fair Share Health Care Fund Act

On October 6th, 2006, the PJC filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Care Initiative (“MCHCI”) in Fielder v. Retail Industry Leaders Association in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  In this cross-appeal, the PJC brief argued that the District Court’s decision below, that the Maryland Fair Share Health Care Fund Act (a/k/a the Wal-Mart Health Care Act) did not violate Equal Protection, and  should be upheld.  In addition, we argued that the District Court’s holding that the Act is preempted by ERISA should be reversed.  The brief provided the Court with the history of the Act, as originally conceived and promoted in 2002 by the MCHCI as a model bill to expand access to health care to all Marylanders.  The brief provides the social context for the Act, the burgeoning Maryland Medicaid budget and the health consequences for the large segment of our population who lack access to health coverage.  People without coverage tend to go without health care until conditions become acute and a trip to the emergency room is unavoidable.  Acute care is exponentially more expensive than ongoing prophylactic care.  Under Maryland’s all payor system of health care financing, hospitals recoup the costs of uncompensated emergency care by charging artificially higher rates for services to those who can pay.  Thus, everyone suffers.  Some, most tragically, through ill-health and untimely death.  The rest, through unnecessarily costly fees for medical services, passed along through higher insurance premiums and ultimately higher taxes as well.  Thus, PJC argues, the Act, seeking to compel large employers to pay their fair share of Maryland’s health budget through a payroll tax, is an imminently rational approach to a serious societal problem.

The RILA amicus brief was written by Suzanne Sangree with co-counsel Mike Pretl, general counsel to the MCHCI.

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