Skip to comments.Wal-Mart Fights Bill Listing Workers on Public Health Care
Posted on 06/02/2005 10:06:30 PM PDT by Eternal Sea
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is fighting legislation that would let Minnesotans know how many of its workers are on public health care assistance in this state.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant recently sent two executives to St. Paul to lobby against the bill, which the Legislature may vote on in special session this month.
"This is not health care reform," said Nate Hurst, public and government relations manager for Wal-Mart. "This is a campaign against Wal-Mart."
The legislation would create a list of companies whose workers are enrolled in MinnesotaCare and other government health care programs.
Proponents of the bill, whose chief author is Sen. Becky Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, say the public has a right to know which employers are draining the state's public health care system. They say the bill does not target Wal-Mart, but will highlight ways the state can work with companies to improve health care programs.
Last fiscal year, the state spent $270.2 million for MinnesotaCare, which provides assistance for people who don't have access to affordable insurance.
"If it's true what people say, that big multinational companies are outsourcing health care to taxpayers, then it would be good to have a handle on which ones," said Rep. Sheldon Johnson, DFL-St. Paul. "It's just information."
In other states that have compiled such lists, Wal-Mart is at or near the top among employers with workers enrolled in state medical assistance.
The state of Wisconsin reported last week that Wal-Mart employees topped the list of BadgerCare recipients, a health care program for low-income residents.
A bill there would force retailers to reimburse the state for providing the health care needs for their underpaid and underinsured employees. The bill would apply only to stores meeting certain criteria, such as stores that exceed $20 million in sales in a taxable year and allocate less than 10 percent of payroll to employees' health insurance.
Nationwide, 24 states have bills pending that would create lists of employers with large numbers of workers enrolled in public health programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
Labor groups, such as the United Food and Commercial Workers union, worry that other retailers will reduce their health care benefits in order to remain competitive with Wal-Mart. They've used the lists as evidence that Wal-Mart is not providing affordable health care insurance to its employees.
Wal-Mart officials insist such rankings warp its record. As the nation's largest employer, Wal-Mart inevitably will fall at or near the top of most state rankings, the company said.
As of October, Wal-Mart employed 17,329 people in Minnesota.
"We'll be the largest on any list, just because of our size," Hurst said.
The company is also concerned about how the data are collected, Hurst said. If a state compiles a list in December, for instance, the numbers may look abnormally high because Wal-Mart employs a large amount of seasonal employees.
In a May 18 letter to state legislators, Wal-Mart said it helps lift employees off public health care by giving them jobs.
Wal-Mart estimates that 160,000 people have been taken off the list of public health care programs nationwide by accepting jobs at Wal-Mart.
"Please be assured that we do not encourage the use of public assistance, and we do not structure our plans with the idea that there will be a governmental safety net," Wal-Mart said in the letter.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Last Updated: 6/2/2005 7:33:11 AM
It's apparent from your comments and the comments of many other's that "insurance" really just means "free" health care. This is the same technique that convinced people to accept seniorfare (social security). They were too proud to accept welfare so FDR told them it was "insurance". Of course, it's never really been insurance.
So let's stop saying "insurance" and just call it what it is: government funded health care.
People without insurance aren't without access to care. My mother had no insurance, but took my brother and me to the doctor whenever we needed it.
It was probably even cheaper that way too. Why give money to an insurance company that will simply take a portion of it for themselves and give remains back to your doctor? Giving it directly to you doctor is less expensive.
And people without insurance aren't all poor.
In fact, the richer you are, the LESS likely it is that you even need insurance.
Insurance isn't there to pay for your health care. You pay that in your premiums. Insurance is there to handle the uncertainty -- not to give you affordable or cheaper care.
We'll see how it shakes out. I'm covered stem to stern, not quite "boutique medicine," but close to it. And, quite frankly, I don't know how some people afford it.
Again, we'll see how it shakes out after October. The linking of health care and bankruptcy reform isn't obvious, but the stats are revealing.
Here's a story I googled on the subject ---
The Associated Press
Updated: 7:43 a.m. ET Feb. 2, 2005
BOSTON - Costly illnesses trigger about half of all personal bankruptcies, and most of those who go bankrupt because of medical problems have health insurance, according to findings from a Harvard University study to be released Wednesday.
Researchers from Harvards law and medical schools said the findings underscore the inadequacy of many private insurance plans that offer worst-case catastrophic coverage, but little financial security for less severe illnesses.
Unless youre Bill Gates, youre just one serious illness away from bankruptcy, said Dr. David Himmelstein, the studys lead author and an associate professor of medicine. Most of the medically bankrupt were average Americans who happened to get sick.
The study, to be published online Wednesday by the journal Health Affairs, distributed questionnaires to 1,771 bankruptcy filers in 2001 in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. That year, there were 1.46 million personal bankruptcies in the United States.
More than 900 of those questioned underwent more detailed interviews about their financial and medical circumstances for what the authors say is the first in-depth study of medical causes of personal bankruptcies, which have risen rapidly in recent years.
Illness and medical bills were cited as the cause, at least in part, for 46.2 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the study. Himmelstein said the figure rose to 54.5 percent when three other factors were counted as medical-related triggers for bankruptcies: births, deaths and pathological gambling addiction.
The study estimates medical-caused bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans each year, counting debtors and their dependents, including 700,000 children.
Most were insured
Most of those seeking court protection from creditors had health insurance, with more than three-quarters reporting they had coverage at the start of the illness that triggered bankruptcy. The study said 38 percent had lost coverage at least temporarily by the time they filed for bankruptcy, with illness frequently leading to the loss of both a job and insurance.
Out-of-pocket medical expenses covering co-payments, deductibles and uncovered health services averaged $13,460 for bankruptcy filers who had private insurance at the onset of illness, compared with $10,893 for those without coverage. Those who initially had private coverage but lost it during their illness faced the highest cost, an average of $18,005.
Middle-class hit hard
The findings indicate medical-related bankruptcies hit middle-class families hard 56 percent of the filers owned a home, and the same number had attended college.
Families with coverage faced unaffordable co-payments, deductibles and bills for uncovered items like physical therapy, psychiatric care and prescription drugs, Himmelstein said.
The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, did not examine how many bankruptcy filers were from dual-income families where both partners had insurance, Himmelstein said.
Jeff Morris, resident scholar at the American Bankruptcy Institute, founded by Congress in 1982 to analyze bankruptcy trends, said the Harvard findings roughly mirror those of a 1996 ABI study in which 57 percent of bankruptcy filers cited medical problems as a primary bankruptcy cause. Respondents in that study were more likely to cite three other factors as primary causes, including easy access to credit, job loss and financial mismanagement.
Morris said he was aware of no data indicating that the Harvard study, which was based on 2001 bankruptcy filings, does not accurately reflect current trends in medical-related bankruptcies.
Medical coverage is becoming more for catastrophic loss than for intermediate expenses, Morris said.
© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed
Why would they tip toe around it? -
Here's an excellent book on the subject:
Flu : The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic -- by Gina Kolata;
If Walmart is employing illegals then that is a different story.
It would help a great deal if the ambulance chasers would knock it off.
That's where healthcare cost are skyrocketing. Any person in the healthcare business would be stupid not to carry a huge amount of malpractice insurance which costs a fortune.
Who do you think profits from a malpractice lawsuit? It's certainly not the injured person.
Just an observation. It seems to me that the more that govt has involved itself in 'healthcare', the more unavailable and unafordable it has become.
Therefore, we need more govt intervention to solve the problem. yeah... right.
I don't know anything about the malpractice issue. I do have friends who are docs and pay over $100,000 a year in insurance, which seems like a lot to me. On the other hand, if docs or hospitals screw up, they should be held liable.
I'll leave it to someone smarter than me to figure it out. There is probably a middle ground someplace, I just don't know where it is or how to get there.
Experience has taught me that not every problem has a "common sense" easy to understand solution. And some problems are so complex that the solution has to evolve incrementally in pretty much the same manner that the problem developed.
This has been real enjoyable. I have to get off to work.
Take care, all.
Check this out...
Catastrophe in Care (Hospitals Being Crippled by Illegal Aliens; Diseases Threaten Public)
Tucson Weekly ^ | 2 June 2005 | Leo W. Banks
[Uh, I would point out there is no law forcing Wal*Mart, or any other company for that matter, to provide health insurance for it's employees.]
That's exactly right. This attitude that corporations are somehow responsible for providing cradle to grave security, especially for workers with no skills, is ridiculous. Employment is just a trade of money for productivity, idiots. If you want a better deal, develop some skills.
Actually, the employers don't pay anything...It's the customers that pay...The employer divides the spoils...
And in this case, Wal-Mart has found that it can keep more of the spoils and let the state (we taxpayers) foot the medical bills...
If the States reform their Medicaid practices, I can see Wal-Mart going union...
Since this is state funded and supplied health care, and these Dumbocrats want a Canadian style health care system, why don't they just tax their citizens more to pay for it?
Companies in Canada don't provide health care for employee's, the system is funded by the taxpayer.
Do these idiots want to drive all the business across the border?
Health care, whether in Canada or the USA is paid for by the individual, In Canada by the taxpayer, for a crappy government run system, in the USA by the individual via insurance companies, who then pay the hospital and doctor for service.
It sounds like Minnisota is already on it's way to state run welfare healthcare, just tax the people more to pay for it and force everyone to use it. Voila, Canadian health care.
As of October, Wal-Mart employed 17,329 people in Minnesota.
So, if each of them pays at least $1000. in state taxes (as a result of being employed) they more than pay for the entire cost of state run medicaide. Why lean on Walmart? I'm sure they pay more than a thousand a year in state taxes on their walmart wages, so ask, where does the rest of that money go?
DemocRATS are so tax greedy.