Judge gives Wal-Mart reprieve on benefits

It looks like state efforts to regulate employee health benefits will be thwarted by existing federal laws, as a federal judge yesterday struck down a Maryland law aimed at the nation's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores. The judge ruled that ERISA, the federal law governing employer-provided health benefits, takes precedence over the state law, which would have required companies with 10,000 or more workers to spend at least 8 percent of their payrolls on health insurance, or pay the difference into a state Medicaid fund. Wal-Mart is the only Maryland employer large enough to have been affected by the law. Predictably, retailers rejoiced while organized labor, patient advocacy groups and state government officials pondered other strategies. The New York Times delves into the subtleties of the decision, including how it might affect laws passed in Massachusetts and Vermont.

For the full story:
- here's The New York Times article