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
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. The health insurance benefit is a perk, pure and simple.
Winn-Dickme is ready to drop its pensions and healthcare for all its retirees. Just like the airlines did. Where's the outrage about that? Winn-Dickme is going under and that's all there is to it.
But the public doesn't have a right to know who is accepting the State's largesse? Employers are not 'draining' anything from the State's welfare programs. I'd even hazard a guess they pay taxes to make the largesse possible. Let's see the State publish the name and address of anyone accepting government checks.
Let Wal-Mart close its stores and THEN count the number of former Wal-Mart employees on welfare.
Anyone who thinks a company will exist into perpetuity and thereby provide benefits to retirees deserves the deal they brokered. I just think it's sad the taxpayer has to pick up the tab for these poor decisions.
This is what the anti capitalist want.
You are right.
Health insurance is something that is a perk. We can buy insurance if we want, or apparently sign up for governmental insurance coverage. It is there to be taken advantage of.
I can't fault people for taking what is made available for such a purpose.
I'd bet even money that, ultimately, we, the taxpayers, are gonna have to partially bail out these problems.
The Unionized grocery stores who are trying to compete with WalMart are going out of business because of "healthcare" expenses and other perks the Unions are trying to force employers to pay.
If Unions want to put good companies out of business they should keep up the campaign. WalMart should close their doors and let these people find work elsewhere. Let's see how fast they are invited back for those "low wages" they are paying.
The same people demanding these perks for these workers are the same people who probably make millions from the Unions.
Health insurance was a perk in the 1970s. Today it's the difference between getting a serious illness treated and the risk of losing everything.
It's called insurance for the very reason it is a financial burden when needed. You could get insurance then and today. It is not the employers responsibility.
Having enjoyed the pleasure and endured the agony of litigating against WalMart for for the mistreatment and oppressive treatment of it employees, I am at liberty to state without equivocation that WalMart is the most dangerous threat to the American economy extant today. It is governed by a gang of self-indugent thieves who have made tons of profit by cheating their employees and lying to the American public. Their false "made in America" program was a gigantic lie and they tried to hide their explotation of asian slave laborers transported to the Marshall Islands and kept in virtual prisons in indentured servitude. And that has been one of their more minor unlawful experiences. Spending money at Walmart is contributing to the demise of middle America's economic strength.
....is it the state's responsibility?
I suspect you'd say no. So, given that, you would opt for a large percentage of the population to have no health insurance. This is a hugely dangerous situation, not only for those who would lose everything because of a major illness, but for the rest of us. There's a lot of nasty bugs flying around out there and I for one would like the guy preparing my salad at the local eatery to see a doctor regularly. Not to mention, I wouldn't like to see a replay of 1918.
Perhaps, but then they should have prepared by staying more healthy all along.
We need to be responsible for ourselves. Catastrophic insurance will stop the problems you describe if only people were willing to give up their HBO.
LOL...glad we are on the same page. (#19)