Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Fair Share Health Care Fund

Well Maryland’s House and Senate have passed the Fair Share Health Care bill. This will require that employers in Maryland with over 10,000 employees spend at least 8% of their total payroll on health care benefits for employees or they will have to pay into the state Medicaid fund. The bill currently faces a veto by Governor Ehrlich.

This bill is important for reasons involving health care and working families of course. It is also important as Maryland is taking a lead role in dealing with this issue. With this bill, the argument is being made that it is not just the poor and indigent that depend upon government assistance, but that large corporations are as 'needy' when it comes to public assistance as are the poor. And in the opinion of this author, this argument is correct.

When a corporation such as Wal-Mart is able to keep up its profit margins by directing its employees to make use of public assistance, it is clear that public assistance is no longer being used to help the poor, but is also being fleeced to support the very well-to-do. This is an unacceptable state of affairs and something will have to be done to change that. To my mind the state and national safety nets are good and justifiable institutions. However, they need to be managed in such a way that the support provided is for the needy and not for the well off. Maryland provides a wide range of services and benefits for those who are doing well economically. There is no basis for complaint if the state provides some modest services for those who are not so well off.

Whatever the fate of this bill, I believe that this will be an important step in reframing the arguments concerning public assistance. Keep an eye on how the national debate on health care develops. I believe that this bill will be a powerful influence on that debate.



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