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)
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.
Many stores do not like unions, not just Walmart. Unions don't do anything for employees these days. They promise better wages and benifits, but in reality any small gain you make in wages is lost because of high union dues. sometimes you end up making less than you did without a union.
So walmart closed it's store in Quebec. Who's the biggest loosers? The government, because they loose a big tax revenue source, and the community. And not just walmart workers, but plumbers, electrical contractors, the paving company, local trucking, etc etc.
Wal-Mart has been caught employing illegal aliens and has been fined for it.
I recently spoke with a friend who works for a furniture/cabinet making factory in the town where we live. In this right to work state she works long hours for low pay & NO benefits, is made to stay for hours on 30 minutes prior notice. If you voice dissatisfaction you are GONE. And in 2005 she is making less per hour than I was making per hour in 1976.
Are they going to list all of the state employees and public school teachers?
"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. "
Anyone that doesn't have at least $20k in reserve for emergancies is irresponsible and deserves to lose their home.
Everyone should have AT LEAST 6 months earnings in reserve.
The body bags will be the price we pay for today's 30cents off a case of toliet paper. This administration knows the facts and is willing to feign their non-exsistence and offer all manner of disingenuous and fallacious rationale' to justify the movement of American jobs, technology and dollars to Asia. Their horizon is no farther than the next quarterly P&L statement and corporate officers' bonuses. Yet, another example of the rampant dishonesty at large in the White House today.
What the hell were we thinking last November when we returned this gang of liars and thieves to power. Of course, that's a rhetorical question, we knew what they are and chose to close our eyes. That's exactly what we did in the 1930s when we shipped millions of tons of scrap iron to Japan that our fathers and grandfathers saw as it came back at them in the form of Jap Zeros, artillery shells, naval vessels and 500lb. bombs.
The best source of the analysis of this ticking time-bomb can be found at the National and separate services war colleges and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Twenty-seven (+/-) years ago an Air Force Lt. Colonel colleague student at the War College did just such a study --it then being only a hypothetical question- as his dissertation. He was very perceptive and his prescience amazingly accurate.
We should not use government intervention to limit the free spread and competition among bugs. This would be the speciesism - a hate crime.
Besides, you prevent that way the natural culling of the more sickly and less fit humans. Freemarketeers will get angry!
Walmart is in business of selling ready made products. The volume of sales is limited by the already existing purchasing power. If Walmart moves out the smaller stores will return, hiring people.
Other developed countries have some forms of national health care. And it costs them LESS, and the results (like average life expectancy) are BETTER!
One step closer to National Health Care.