April 6, 2005
WakeUpWalmart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart, challenged Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, Inc. to explain his statement yesterday regarding Wal-Mart’s health care coverage. During “”Wal-Mart Media Days,”” a two-day public relations effort to improve Wal-Mart’s image, Lee Scott answered questions from reporters.
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Scott, in response to a reporter’s question about why Wal-Mart has the most number of employees on state Medicaid rolls, apparently said, “”There are government assistance programs out there that are so lucrative it’s hard to be competitive, and it’s expensive to be competitive,”” Scott said.
Georgia state legislator Nan Orrock was shocked. “”It should be an embarrassment to Wal-Mart that our tax-payer funded Medicaid programs compete with their dismal health care,”” stated Orrock. “”Our programs are intended for our state’s poor and underserved as a safety net, not as a better alternative to the largest corporation with more than $10 billion in profit.””
Instead of living up to its responsibility as America’s largest corporation, Wal-Mart continues to ask taxpayers to pay their health care costs. Several states are considering addressing this health care cost shift. In Maryland, for example, the State Senate passed a bill yesterday requiring corporations to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health care benefits for its employees or put the difference into Maryland’s Medicaid fund. According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland has several employers with over 10,000 employees, but Wal-Mart is the only company that fails to meet the 8 percent threshold.
“”This is outrageous! With over $10 billion in profits, Wal-Mart has a moral responsibility to provide decent healthcare for their 1.4 million employees,”” stated Paul Blank, Wake-Up Wal-Mart’s campaign director. “”It is a sad day when the largest company in America admits that taxpayer sponsored healthcare programs, like Medicaid, provide better health care than our nation’s largest employer.””
It should also be noted, in the 11 out of 12 states where we have data, Wal-Mart is the company with the highest number of employees on Medicaid. In addition, more than 500,000 of Wal-Mart’s employees do not receive coverage under Wal-Mart’s health care plan.
“”It’s quite simple. Wal-mart needs to wake-up and do what is right for America! Wal-Mart has a responsibility to provide affordable, comprehensive health care to its employees not shift the cost onto the American taxpayers. America’s largest company should reflect America’s values,”” added Blank.
The Wake-Up Wal-Mart campaign was launched on April 5, 2005 by the UFCW and more information is available at www.wakeupwalmart.com.