The US state of Maryland has passed a law stating that companies that employ more that 10,000 people within the state's borders must put at least 8% of its payroll to cover employee health insurance.

Maryland’s legislature is the first in the US to pass such a law and, according to the state’s democratic senator Gloria Lawlah, the torch has been lit to light the way for other states.

Enthusiastic supporters of the bill claim the up to 30 other states could be in line for passing similar laws, according to a report from the New York Times. However more cautious union campaigners and health care sector commentators suggest only Washington, Rhode Island, Colorado and New Hampshire are seriously considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the issue, The National Retail Federation, the National Restaurant Association and the International Franchise Association have created a coalition to oppose the spread of the legislation to other states. The coalition believes the increased financial responsibility could cost jobs.