Friday, September 28, 2007

Feds, states fight for health insurance control

I stumbled across an interesting post this morning (thank you, Google Alerts!) that questions whether federal health insurance laws should pre-empt state ones.

The State Policy Network, which blogged on the topic, bills itself as the “professional service organization for America’s state-based, free market think tank community.” The post centers on the federal ERISA, or Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

From the post:

Organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are concerned that some legislators want to punch holes in ERISA. Most of these legislators are on the wrong side of things: they are unhappy that a court found that a Maryland law that would oppress Wal-Mart's ability to freely negotiate health benefits with its workers violated ERISA.

Nevertheless, such federal intervention unsettles free-market activists. After all, if your state government is messing up health insurance, vote them out and get better lawmakers. If you can't do that, and Wal-Mart bails out of Maryland, go to one in Virginia or Pennsylvania. Eventually, the state will feel the economic pain and improve its policies.

What, ideally, should Maryland do -- legislatively or otherwise -- on this issue?

And is there a viable compromise between state and federal regulation?

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor