NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 27, 2006

The Fair Share Act, or HB 2517, will require all Washington state companies with 5,000 or more employees to provide a certain level of health care benefit or pay a new nine percent payroll tax to the state treasury. This is a form of bad public policy, says Paul Guppy of the Washington Policy Center.

In principle, HB 2517 is wrong because it unfairly targets a narrow group of companies, and citizens should always be concerned when certain groups or businesses are singled out as the focus of government power, says Guppy:

  • It is unfair to workers who choose to access health coverage in other ways, such as through a spouse or individual-based coverage that puts workers in charge of their own health care.
  • It is particularly unfair to temporary and part-time workers because if a temporary employee works just one day, he could be counted toward the employer's quota of 5,000 workers.
  • HB 2517 is also unfair to business owners who should have a right to run their business free form micro-management by the state.

Moreover, HB 2517 is wrong in practice because it will not, as it claims, increase access to health coverage for Washington workers; instead, it will impose a mandatory, top-down solution making it harder for Washingtonians to gain access to health care and will discourage new jobs, says Guppy.

However, there are ways the legislature can reduce artificial costs and increase access to affordable health care for Washington workers, says Guppy:

  • Reduce expensive health care mandates.
  • End the ban on basic health insurance.
  • Bring back competition.
  • Lower medical malpractice costs.
  • Encourage personal Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) that put consumers in charge and reduce the number of uninsured.

Source: Paul Guppy, "The 'Fair Share' Act, is Wrong in Principle and Wrong in Practice," Washington Policy Center, January 2006.


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