Washblog

Wal-Mart has 3,100 employees on state-run health care

Apparently Wal-Mart was lying during public testimony on SB 6356. Bill 6356 has been dubbed the 'Fair Share' or 'Wal-Mart' bill, and the leaked report shows why:

More than 3,100 Wal-Mart employees in Washington were benefiting from state-subsidized health coverage throughout 2004 — nearly double the total for any other company, according to two confidential state reports.

That total is much higher than previously thought. And it indicates that as many as 20 percent of Wal-Mart's employees were getting taxpayer-funded health care for themselves or their dependents.

Lawmakers said one of the most startling findings in the new reports is that more than half of the Wal-Mart employees who received Medicaid benefits — nearly 1,800 — were full-time workers.

More Wal-Mart fun over the fold.

Washington State taxpayers are subsidizing the health care costs (at a very expensive rate) for a company with $300 Billion in revenues last year.

Democrats in the House and Senate say the reports show that Wal-Mart and some other big companies are shifting millions of dollars in health-care costs to the state.

"I think taxpayers should be outraged," Rep. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma, said Monday. "They are subsidizing one of the wealthiest corporations in the world."

Of course, Wal-Mart has an excuse for everything. But what about the falsehoods Wal-Mart's lobbyist said in public testimony about SB 6356, about their being only 314 employees receiving taxpayer-funded care, when it turns out to be over 3,100?

Amy Hill, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said the company has no information that would confirm or refute the state's findings. But she said the data are more than a year old and might no longer be accurate.

"We implemented a lot of new plans last fall that we believe may appeal to people who had chosen to not take our coverage," Hill said.

Those 'new' plans are simply a rip-off - $1000 deductibles, $1000 caps on coverage, and it isn't easy to get on a plan at Wal-Mart, either. From a recent study done by the AFL-CIO:

Getting covered under the Wal-Mart plan is “only part of the story,” the AFL-CIO report cautions. Even if they can afford the plan, workers face significant gaps in coverage, ranging from “lack of insurance for important preventive care to big out-of-pocket expenses.” For instance, the report finds the Wal-Mart plan does not cover childhood immunizations for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella and tetanus—all recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as “the best available defense against many dangerous childhood diseases.”

Nonsupervisory workers also must wait months and even years to get on Wal-Mart’s health plan. While Wal-Mart managers are eligible to buy into the plan on their date of hire, full-time workers must wait six months. And part-time workers—with fewer than 34 hours, up from 28 hours prior to 2002—must wait two years. In comparison, the average waiting period at firms of 5,000 or more workers is just 1.3 months and 2.5 months at retailers generally.

< HB 2661 Hearing begins at 3:30 today | HB 2661 Senate floor debate is live on TVW >
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On Fri, 13 Jan 2006 11:38:16 -0800, Hewitt, Sen. Mike wrote > Thank you for writing to me in reference proposed legislation that would require private companies in Washington with more than 5,000 employees to provide those employees with health care coverage. Typically I do not respond to form drafted emails/letters, but I feel it is very important to set the facts straight on this issue. > I agree with you that health care insurance is important, but it is not as important as a job. Increasing an employer's costs to have workers will likely mean fewer workers - workers who currently have health care coverage. Measures that were introduced during the 2005 session House Bill 1702 and Senate Bill 5637 addressed the health care insurance. The only difference, as I understand it, with this year's version is that it applies only to very large companies, specifically Wal-Mart. Last year's bills applied to companies with just only 50 or more employees. This type of legislation is targeted at one company only and that is unfair. > I appreciate and share your concerns that we have a significant problem with the cost of health care. It is expensive, but mandating employer-paid health care insurance will not bring down the cost of health care. What we need to do is focus on making health care and health care insurance more affordable. > One way we can reduce the cost of health care is to decrease the number of mandates on health insurance carriers. Currently, state law imposes 48 different mandates on what must be covered by insurance plans offered in Washington. Trimming these mandates and giving employers and employees the ability to tailor their coverage to fit their needs will bring down the cost of health insurance. > Legislators can also reduce health care costs by bringing stakeholders to the table and providing the leadership needed to bring an end to the hugely expensive practice of defensive medicine. > We need to find ways to bring down the cost of medical liability insurance and we need to make changes in law that will reduce the incidences of frivolous lawsuits and unfair damage awards. > I know your concerns are genuine and I appreciate your taking the time to share them with me. > Senator Mike Hewitt

-8.75, -8.46 The Cutlass of Mild Reason

by cmk on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 10:27:34 AM PST

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I found the article about the Brown & Cole store closings and the CEO's remarks that he has to close these stores due to Wal-Mart's not paying it's fair share:

Founded in 1909, Brown & Cole provides health care coverage for 95 percent of its employees, most of whom are in unions, Cole said.

"It used to be accepted that good companies took care of their employees," he said, accusing Wal-Mart of "inferior wages and benefits for its workers, outsourcing jobs to foreign producers and showing little regard for the environment."

According to Wal-Mart figures, average pay for full-time workers in its Washington state outlets is $10.14 an hour -- less than at Brown & Cole -- and about half of its hourly workers in those stores are covered by the company's health care insurance. None have union contracts.


by Brian on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 11:22:41 AM PST

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