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GUEST,Woody BS: Has Walmart been defeated? (574* d) RE: BS: Has Walmart been defeated? 29 Aug 06

Democrats Introduce Bill Targeting Wal-Mart
By Susan Jones - CNS News
June 23, 2005
Liberal Democrats are taking aim at "large, profitable companies" accused of shifting their health care costs onto taxpayers. Their bill is part of a union-inspired anti-Wal-Mart campaign.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) plan to introduce their Health Care Accountability Act, which will address a "growing and costly national problem" involving companies such as Wal-Mart.

Mentioning the retail giant by name in a press release, the lawmakers said "Wal-Mart's relentless pursuit of corporate greed has come at a high price for their workers' health care."

According to Kennedy, Corzine and Weiner, around 600,000 Wal-Mart workers are not covered by the company's health care plan.

"Poverty-level wages combined with high deductibles, costly premiums and strict eligibility requirements force tens of thousands of Wal-Mart's workers, spouses and dependents onto public health care programs designed for needy families and children," the Democrats said.

Kennedy, Corzine and Weiner said their Health Care Accountability Act will require states to disclose which employers have a high number of employees on public health care assistance, such as Medicaid. The bill also will show how much taxpayer money is "subsidizing the health care costs of large, profitable corporations, like Wal-Mart."

Those attending the Wednesday afternoon press conference include Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

The UFCW has launched a "Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care" campaign as part of a larger anti-Wal-Mart initiative called "Wake-Up Wal-Mart."

The union is trying to muster grassroots support for legislation that would require companies like Wal-Mart to pay "at least a minimum amount of their workers' health care."

Labor unions are longtime foes of Wal-Mart, a company that advertises low prices -- and insists there is no need for Wal-Mart employees to unionize, since the "line of communication" between workers and managers are open "at all times."

The UFCW says Wal-Mart "fails to provide health care" for more than 52 percent of its 1.3 million workers.

But Wal-Mart says many of the workers who choose not to enroll in company-offered health plans are either teenagers covered by their families' policies or older people covered by Medicare or retiree plans, the Baltimore Sun recently quoted one Wal-Mart official as saying.

Wal-Mart's website specifically states that "Wal-Mart does not encourage our associates to apply for public assistance.

"We will be the first to acknowledge that health care is a tough issue -- for us and for the country. We work hard to keep our associate premiums affordable and think we are doing a pretty good job."

Wal-Mart notes that health care premiums start at less than $40 a month for an individual and less than $155 per month for a family, no matter how many members, the website says.

Wal-Mart also says that unlike many health care plans, "after the first year, the Wal-Mart medical plan has no lifetime maximum for most expenses, protecting our associates against catastrophic loss and financial ruin."

Wal-Mart's critics admit that their newest campaign against the retailer is "part of a nationwide effort to change Wal-Mart."

The goal, they say, is to "build public and political pressure against Wal-Mart to take responsibility for its part in America's health care crisis" and to pass laws requiring Wal-Mart to pay "its fair share for health care in each and every state.

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