Businesses including a Vestal, New York, hair salon, a Brooklyn ice cream parlor and Lower Manhattan martial arts academy alleged in a lawsuit filed in June that the law violated free speech rights by penalizing them for adding surcharges while at the same time allowing them to provide discounts to customers paying with cash or debit cards. Alice in Wonderland has nothing on section 518 of the New York General Business Law, Rakoff wrote. This virtually incomprehensible distinction between what a vendor can and cannot tell its customers offends the First Amendment and renders section 518 unconstitutional. Rakoff said the law violated the First Amendment because it prevented merchants from calling the difference between prices charged to cash customers and credit-card users a surcharge. The term surcharge communicates to customers that credit cards are costly for merchants, the businesses argued. Under Review We are reviewing the decision and considering our next step, Melissa Grace, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said in an e-mail. Visa Inc. ( V:US ) and MasterCard Inc. ( MA:US ) are awaiting a federal judges decision on whether to approve a multibillion-dollar antitrust settlement with U.S. merchants over interchange fees that would lift prohibitions on surcharges. Critics of the settlement have argued that at least 10 states, including New York, prohibit surcharging, limiting the usefulness of that part of the accord. Merchants generally pay higher interchange, or swipe, fees when customers make purchases with credit cards than they do when buyers use debit cards. A provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law limits debit swipe fees, so some merchants want to use surcharging to deter customers from using credit cards. Deepak Gupta, a lawyer for the New York businesses that challenged the law, said that merchants are preparing similar constitutional challenges in other states that prohibit surcharging. The other states laws are indistinguishable from new York, Gupta, with Washington-based Gupta Beck Pllc, said in an interview. They were enacted at the same time, had the same purpose and often use the same words. The case is Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman, 1:13-cv-03775, U.S.
New York Health Care Site Slammed With 30 Million Hits
Although more than 30 million hits were recorded by Wednesday evening, just 12,000 have entered the system and supplied information that is expected to lead to purchasing insurance, Frescatore said. Many of the 30 million hits may reflect several visits by the same person over two days. Many may also simply be gleaning general information and may apply later. Still others could be from another state, but employed by a company based in New York. The state is looking to streamline the process so people can shop faster and not be “timed out” by the site. Frescatore urged New Yorkers not to be discouraged if they are blocked or slowed in their use of the website. She noted applicants have six months to enroll and applications as late as December can result in insurance coverage on Jan. 1, the earliest date for coverage. “The state’s customer service center operators have provided information to and answered questions from more than 9,000 New Yorkers,” she said. “Today, like all other states, New York’s website is experiencing significant levels of activity, which is causing some users to experience difficulty entering the site and delays in application processing.” Related on HuffPost: Loading Slideshow 10. France Total expenditure on health per capita: $3,978 Expenditure as % of GDP: 11.8% (3rd most) Annual growth of total health expenditure: +2.7% (18th most) Life expectancy: 81.5 years (8th highest) Source: 24/7 Wall St. 9. Germany Total expenditure on health per capita: $4,218 Expenditure as % of GDP: 11.6% (4th most) Annual growth of total health expenditure: +4% (15th most) Life expectancy: 80.3 years (18th highest) Source: 24/7 Wall St. 8. Austria Total expenditure on health per capita: $4,298 Expenditure as % of GDP: 11% (8th most) Annual growth of total health expenditure: +2.2% Life expectancy: 80.4 years (16th highest) Source: