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.
Photo courtesy of Walmart