Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thursday 4-Fer #4

Here’s your final Thursday 4-Fer, ending with the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Kudos to Steve McClure for publishing a “rebuttal”, so to speak, to last week’s front-page story on Maryland’s recent health care legislation effectively aimed only at Wal-Mart. Maryland is going to force Wal-Mart to spend the equivalent of 9 percent of its payroll on health insurance programs.

As you have probably heard, Washington’s ‘Rats (as Ray so eloquently puts it) are not about to be out-liberaled by anyone, so there are proposals now afoot in Olympia to mimic the Maryland law in the Everblue State. Meanwhile, if they want to copy another state, this is the legislation they should be considering The Daily News story gave Wal-Mart’s side of the issue:
At a news conference Wednesday, regional Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amy Hill called Washington’s version of the measure purely political.

“It does absolutely nothing to address the rising costs of health care and it does absolutely nothing to take anybody off the uninsured rolls,” she said.

Representatives from state business groups agreed, saying the proposals could drive employers from the state and be broadened to affect struggling small businesses.

“We are a necessary employer, and we should be valued and taken care of, not attacked,” said Jan Teague, president of the Washington Retail Association.

Hill declined to say what percentage of its payroll Wal-Mart presently spends on health benefits in Washington or nationally.

She did say that the company’s 16,000 workers in Washington are all eligible for benefits, even if they are not full-time employees.

A statement distributed by the company said more than 615,000 of the company’s 1.3 million workers are covered by Wal-Mart health plans
Well, it’s pretty easy to connect the dots. A recent Seattle Times story (thanks WSUStretch!) mentioned the “secret” reports that have been prepared for legislators on who the employers are with the highest number of employees on state-funded health care programs. A similar study, mistakenly released three years ago, said Wal-Mart had 341 employees on Basic Health (one of the two state-funded programs along with Medicaid). 341 out of 16,000 is 2.1% of Wal-Mart employees on Basic Health. The recent Global Insight study reported that only 2.3% of Washington Wal-Mart employees are on Medicaid, the lowest number in the country. That’s what all the fuss is about??? I’d be willing to wager almost every company in Washington has at least 2% of its employees on Medicaid or Basic Health.

This is no more than a witch-hunt aimed at forcing Wal-Mart to either unionize or go broke.


Ray Lindquist said...

Well since Maryland is the 'first' maybe they should be the first state that Wal-Mart closes all the stores and just walks away from all of it and let the Rats chew on that for a bit and see how much money then can spend of a big FAT Zero $$'s that may make them think twice. They are like a drunken sailor on tax dollars and when they see that the company is going to take all of the tax dollars elsewhere they may reconsider. It seems to me that they (the states) are just getting plain greedy. How many stores and tax dollars is Wal-Mart spending a state like Maryland?? It has to be a very large sum. PARD has already cost Whitman County what maybe 15 to 20 thousand dollars a month? Has anyone got that figure that sure would be a good one to put out so we can see what it is already costing our community from NOT having a Wal-Mart.

Ray Lindquist said...

One more thing, since Wal-Mart is the biggest employer in the nation is it possible they are one of if not the biggest in the state of Washington also. So maybe they should look at the percentage of people using state provided medical services instead of just a number.