Business groups oppose ‘Wal-Mart bill

Lobbyists for the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire and the Retail Merchants Association testified Wednesday against the so-called Wal-Mart bill, House Bill 1704, which would make the state’s 25 biggest profit-making firms pay 8 percent of their payroll for health benefits or send the same amount to the Medicaid program.

Hospitals and other large nonprofits would pay 6 percent of payroll because they claim no offsetting tax break on fringe benefits.

David Juvet of the BIA claimed that HB 1704 fails the equal protection test because an engineering firm with 100 employees might pay 10 times as much as a big box retailer with a workforce the same size. He said the real issue is medical cost escalation and urged lawmakers to back HB 1555, drafted by the BIA and sponsored by Rep. Jim MacKay, R-Concord.

It would identify the drivers in health-care cost inflation.

Bill supporters said the bill is modeled on legislation the Maryland governor recently vetoed. Lawmakers there will vote this week on an override. – CHRIS DORNIN/GOLDEN DOME NEWS SERVICE

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