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Walmart Supports Health Care Reform and Employer Mandate

Walmart Supports Health Care Reform and Employer Mandate

In a letter addressed to President Obama, Walmart Stores states its support for health care reform “not just to improve the health of all Americans, but also to remove the burden that is crushing America’s businesses and hampering our competitiveness in the global economy.” The letter went on to say,

“We are for an employer mandate which is fair and broad in its coverage, but any alternative to an employer mandate should not create barriers to hiring entry level employees. We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to develop a requirement that is both sensible and equitable… Support for a mandate also requires the strongest possible commitment to rein in health care costs.”

Walmart has taken on health issues before, with its $4 prescription drug plan, and its in-store clinics, but has taken a lot of heat in recent years over employee benefits. The largest private employer in the United States, just slightly more than half of its workforce is covered by employer-based medical insurance. (According to its website, 94 percent of Walmart’s employees are covered by some type of medical insurance.)

Large corporations have not exactly been lining up to support employer mandates, complaining that such action would force them to cut jobs and/or lower wages. 

While the letter makes no firm commitment regarding health care coverage for its employees, it does reflect the heated atmosphere surrounding health care reform, and the belief/fear that there is no stopping the juggernaut. It is clearly in the best interests of Walmart to not only support reform, but to try to help shape it.

“As health care reform enters the next phase, we came together at this point in the debate to add our combined voices to the momentum building behind reform. We believe the time for comprehensive reform is now. The present system is not sustainable. The status quo is not an option. We applaud the bipartisan efforts in Congress to craft and pass legislation.” – Leslie Dach, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Government Relations, Walmart.

Does Walmart really care about the health benefits of its employees, or is it just looking out for its bottom line… does it even matter?

 

Read the letter to President Obama in its entirety here. The letter was signed by John Podesta, President & CEO of Center for American Progress; Andrew L. Stern, President of Service Employees International Union; and Mike Duke, President & CEO of Walmart Stores, Inc.

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Photo courtesy of Walmart


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56 comments

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7:43AM PDT on Jul 7, 2009

"...any alternative to an employer mandate should not create barriers to hiring entry level employees." That sounds a bit like "They'd better not make laws against firing people for their age and only giving health benefits to those who don't need it." Yup. Sounds like Walmart.

10:49AM PDT on Jul 5, 2009

Tony M. Your health care sounds amazing! What are the benefits actually like? Where DO you work, and who is your carrier so the rest of us have a sense of direction in our medical future. Would someone like me, who is disabled but extremely well educated and can't even find a job be eligible for such insurance? I know there are some benefits connected to the amazing company my family is associated with but I probably have to be higher up the ranks. Nice getting to read your comments.

10:41AM PDT on Jul 5, 2009

If they help get an appropriate health care reform passed that helps my family or me, I really don't care if it's profit seeking or not. I care about my family and myself, and as long as it's not a harmful motive, IT'S ALL GOOD!!!

8:31PM PDT on Jul 4, 2009

I have to work 32 1/2 hours a week to get health insurance. I pay about $110 per paycheck pretax for my son and I. My deductible is about $3000 for the year. $5640 a year is kind of a lot for me since I only make about $27,000.00 a year. Doesn't leave much left for mortgage and car payments and retirement, etc. I hope that all companies can better afford health coverage for their employees by insureance companies and hospitals lowering their costs for things. And I hope people realize the best thing they can do is get healthy and then then don't need as many meds, surgeries and treatments.

8:19AM PDT on Jul 4, 2009

my health coverage costs me $12.00 a month. $1000 dollar deductible, 2000 max out of pocket. not bad coverage for 12 bucks, guess where i work?

2:07PM PDT on Jul 3, 2009

Im so sick of people slamming Walmart. Who supplies the cash to run ads and keep everyone worked up about Walmart? The unions that cant seem to get in with the employees at Walmart..why is that I wonder? My father is in HEART FAILURE, he has had multiple surgeries and on alot of meds. He has worked at Walmart for a few years. He is PART TIME and has FULL MEDICAL BENEFITS. HIs health care benefits are no worse then any other retail benefits or even the small company that I work at...which you have to be full time to get benefits. If Walmart treated their employees so bad then why would they do everything that they have done for someone in heart faiure....I know...falling on dead ears here isnst it...to easy to listen to all of the negativity about Walmart because it's the popular thing to do right???

9:55AM PDT on Jul 3, 2009

Any job at a Wal Mart store should start at minumum wage. Prove your worth to get a raise. GM paid workers 30 bucks an hour to put a piece of velcro on the dash of your car and GM caved in to union demands on healthcare, look where they are now, out of business.

You want a high paying low skill job in america, good luck, all companies that do that are out of business. Americans are lazy and spoon fed. You want a good job, then work for it.

Otherwise get an education and provide for yourself, don't depend on welfare because you quit school had kids and work a minimum wage job!

7:17AM PDT on Jul 3, 2009

WalMart does some good things, and does some bad things, and does all of them in order to increase profits. That's what businesses do. You can argue about how bad or good WalMart is. However, it is not at all surprising that they would come out in favor of healthcare reform because just like so many other large companies, healthcare costs are unprofitable for them. GM and Chrysler would be solvent and not in need of a government bailout if they didn't have huge healthcare costs, both for current and for retired employees. WalMart wants to reduce their costs. OK, profit making companies all want to do that. If it motivates WalMart to support healthcare reform, and if you support healthcare reform then get used to the idea that you are on the same side as WalMart, even if not for the same reasons. We will need all the support we can get from corporate America to resist the influence of the insurance lobby and get something which might actually work (did someone say "single payer"?) What we need to make sure of is that what we get works for all businesses, especially for small businesses who are struggling in every way. Large companies currently have a huge advantage in negotiating group rates with insurance companies. We need at the very least a public option which is accessible to the unemployed and to small employers so they can compete with the WalMarts of the world. Or better yet, take the profit motive out of the middle man who provides no care with single payer.

5:56AM PDT on Jul 3, 2009

Walmart sees that some healthcare reform is coming and they can no longer profit by sending employees to care providers at no expense to the corporation. Their best bet is to pretend to support, while doing everything they can to water down the employer obligations. Look for proposals like "trigger" to delay implimentation, or Co-ops to weaken negotions with national medical providers.

1:49AM PDT on Jul 3, 2009

I hope that President Obama will try to introduce
s a National Health service to the USA. Unfortunately, for those who have no health insurance (40% of your population?) I do not think he will succeed, not only because big business will not allow it, but it seems to me (as a European) that the majority of US citizens will not be in favour because you all live in a nation which is driven by social Darwinism..

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