Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, February 11, 2006

"State attacks on Wal-Mart won't solve problems with health care"

This is an editorial that appeared in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin on January 24:

Something has to be done so that everybody has access to basic health care — and it has to be done at the national level, not by the states.

Wal-Mart is the nation's largest retailer — and also its biggest political football.

Politicians from coast to coast are using Wal-Mart to score political points because it is easy to target the giant retailer.

Some of Wal-Mart's business practices offend, particularly when it comes to employees' wages and benefits. (It must be noted, however, that a lot of folks apparently aren't so offended by Wal-Mart policies that they don't stop spending money in the stores, which is why the company is huge — and profitable.)

The Washington Legislature is considering legislation that would force companies with more than 5,000 workers to spend the equivalent of 9 percent of their payroll on health insurance. It's clear Wal-Mart is the target.

Other states, too, have Wal-Mart in their crosshairs. For example, the Maryland Legislature passed a law that requires companies with more than 10,000 employees to spend 8 percent of their payroll on health benefits. Wal-Mart is the only company that fits in that category.

The proposals in Washington, Maryland and elsewhere won't result in many — if any — more people having access to health care. When states force private businesses to offer a certain level of health-care insurance it causes them to cut employees or move out of that state. The employees (make that former employees) now don't have insurance or a paycheck.

Historically, businesses in the United States have not offered health-insurance benefits to employees because of a government mandate. Insurance was offered as a benefit to attract and retain good employees. It was a market-driven decision.

But if we were to outline a health-care system that would best serve the needs of Americans, a system that links health-care insurance with employment wouldn't even be considered.

Why then do we insist on sticking with this broken, outdated model? It's what we know. And, since most of us have insurance through our employers, we aren't eager to upset the status quo.

Something has to be done so that everybody has access to basic health care — and it has to be done at the national level, not by the states. Taking cheap shots at giant retailers is simply not productive.

The nation needs to look at changing the system. What's needed is a federal health-care system that provides a safety net for the needy while also helping to reduce the cost of employer-sponsored health-care insurance.
Personally, I don't agree with the national health care system being advocated by the author We already rejected Hillary-Care. But the points about Wal-Mart are right on the money. Picking on one company to score quick points is the worst kind of political chicanery. The Democrats should be ashamed to be so transparently dancing to the tune of the union fiddlers.

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1 comment:

Scotty said...

National health care is not a good idea. People argue it is a right. They want to turn the US down the road to socialism even more than it is right now.