Pay your share, Wal Mart
Sorry, not for Wal Mart
Wal-Mart Chief Makes Plea to States on Health Care Costs
By MICHAEL BARBARO
Published: February 27, 2006
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 — With Wal-Mart Stores under mounting pressure to spend more on employee health insurance, the company's chief executive on Sunday urged the nation's governors not to pass legislation that would burden the giant retailer, and pledged to work with the governors to move workers off state Medicaid rolls.
The executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., said that state bills aimed at improving Wal-Mart's benefits "may score short-term political points, but they won't solve America's health care challenges."
Mr. Scott said that Wal-Mart's health plans were "not perfect" but that the company was committed to improving the health care system by expanding its benefits and by opening low-cost medical clinics for workers and the public in its stores.
Trying to broaden a debate over employer health care plans that has focused heavily on Wal-Mart, Mr. Scott said: "At the end of the day, this is not about me. It is not about Wal-Mart. And it is not about you. It is about all of us and what we can do to keep this country great."
The speech, given at the annual meeting of the National Governors Association here, was directed at an increasingly important constituency for Wal-Mart: state leaders who have veto power over legislation aimed at forcing Wal-Mart to spend more on health care.
More than 20 states have introduced such legislation this year, and even though few of the bills have a serious chance of becoming law, according to state leaders, their very existence underscores how big a political problem health care has become for Wal-Mart.
In a bit of political theater, Mr. Scott pledged to travel to any governor's office to discuss health care, offering to lend the company's legendary technology expertise to help manage the cost of benefits.
"The only thing I ask," he said, in an apparent jab at various proposed health care bills, "is that we talk about real solutions to the health care challenges facing working families."
Christine Gregoire, the Democratic governor of Washington, said that 20 percent of Wal-Mart workers in her state received public health care assistance. After Mr. Scott's speech, she said that this was "a problem that he has to solve."
Wal Mart is the largest modern American corporaton to not provide benefits to their workers. The Walton family are bilionaires. There is no excuse for this.
posted by Steve @ 1:23:00 AM