June 23, 2005
Kennedy, Corzine and Weiner Introduce New Health Care Legislation to Hold Companies, like Wal-Mart, Accountable
Washington D.C. – Today, Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator Jon Corzine and Representative Anthony Weiner announced the introduction of the Health Care
Accountability Act (HCAA) to expose the growing problem of profitable companies, like Wal-Mart, forcing workers onto public health care designed for the needy. The legislation is an important first step in the growing national campaign to “”Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care”” launched by WakeUpWalMart.com.
The HCAA bill will expose the “”Wal-Mart Health Care Tax”” – the price we all pay because Wal-Mart fails to provide its workers with affordable health care. Not only do more than 600,000 Wal-Mart workers go without company provided health insurance, but tens of thousands of their employees are forced to rely on taxpayer funded public health care.
“”Wal-Mart’s poverty wages, high deductibles and strict eligibility requirements force tens of thousands of their employees to rely on taxpayer funded public health care,”” said President Joe Hansen. “”The Wal-Mart health care crisis costs taxpayers over $210 million and counting. It is simply un-American and unfair for a company with over $10 billion in profits to shift their costs onto us.””
The HCAA requires all states to gather and release the number of employees that companies have on taxpayer funded public health care. The gathering and disclosure of this data is critical to estimating the considerable cost taxpayers already bear because of the failure of large, profitable employers who force workers and their families onto public health care assistance.
“”Programs like Medicaid provide a critical safety net for low-income women and children, the disabled and the elderly and shouldn’t be a profit center for large companies like Wal-Mart,”” said Senator Ted Kennedy.
In at least 12 states, Wal-Mart has more employees, spouses and dependents on state public assistance than any other employer in the state. In the state of Georgia, for
example, more than 10,000 children on PeachCare (the state’s health care program for low income children) had parents working for Wal-Mart at an estimated cost of $10 million per year. The next largest employer only had 734 children in the program.
“”Americans pay a high price for Wal-Mart’s race to the bottom. We deserve to know the truth about the high cost of Wal-Mart’s greed,”” said Paul Blank, Campaign Director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
At the press conference, WakeUpWalMart.com revealed the “”Wal-Mart Health Care Tax”” bill, a 3-foot-by-6-foot replica of an actual “”Wal-Mart bill.”” The bill displays the estimated dollar cost U.S. taxpayers pay for Wal-Mart’s failure to provide health insurance to their workers. A large map of the United States was also displayed to symbolize “”America’s Hidden Health Care Cost”” – the 4-foot map of the United States that will display how little state data is available and how hidden the cost to taxpayers and our health care system remains.
Wal-Mart, a company with $10 billion dollars in net profit last year, fails to provide health care for more than 52% percent of its 1.3 million workers. In 12 of 13 states with released and analyzed data, Wal-Mart workers rely on public health care, like Medicaid, more than the workers of any other employer.
As a result, in state after state, Wal-Mart is directly shifting its health care responsibilities onto American taxpayers. Central to the campaign will be a grassroots effort to build public and political pressure against Wal-Mart to address its part in America’s health care crisis, as well as a call for legislative action that will ensure Wal-Mart – not taxpayers – pays its fair share for health care in each and every state.
The “”Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care”” campaign initiative is part of a nationwide effort to change Wal-Mart led by wakeupwalmart.com