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2004-10-26
Bentonville, AR. Wal-Mart Gives $500,000 To Stop Health Care Question in California.

Citizen Wal-Mart announced this week it is making a $500,000 contribution to a group called Californians Against Government Run Health Care, a coalition that is fighting Proposition 72. Wal-Mart says it first decided to stay above the fray, but when "false accusations" were made about its health care plan, it decided to open up its wallet and influence the outcome. In a company press release, Wal-Mart said, "The proposition's supporters are running a new multi-million dollar television ad campaign that unfairly targets Wal-Mart, so we had no choice but to get involved. The ads attempt to make Wal-Mart a scapegoat, claiming we do not provide affordable health care. These are outright lies, and voters
deserve far better than that." Wal-Mart defended its health plan by saying it offers "medical coverage to both full- and part-time employees" as well as dental care, and a profit sharing and 401(k) plan, life insurance and -- merchandise discounts at Wal-Mart stores! "Wal-Mart believes employers should provide quality health care coverage to their employees, and we do," the company claimed. "We offer a wide choice of affordable health care options to both full- and part-time employees in California and across the country." Although Wal-Mart has said that 45% of its workers get their health care insurance from the company, now they are claiming that in California "nearly two-thirds of Wal-Mart's eligible full-time hourly employees are enrolled in Wal-Mart's health care plan." Wal-Mart also says its health insurance comes with low, everyday prices. "Company employees can obtain health insurance for as little as $15.25 bi-weekly for individual coverage and $66.25 bi-weekly for family coverage. Full-time hourly
associates have waiting periods for health care coverage that range from three to six months. Wal-Mart's waiting periods for medical coverage are comparable to other national retailers." Of course, Wal-Mart does not define the health care coverage it provides for that price, which is a high deductible, catastrophic form of coverage, that leaves the workers with high out of pocket expenses. Such coverage can discourage workers from even bothering to buy the plan. Wal-Mart complained that a health care study conducted by UC Berkeley's Labor Center "did not even contact the company for facts and statistics." Wal-Mart also claims that the study falsely accused the company of encouraging its workers to apply for public assistance. Citizen Wal-Mart is financing helping to defeat Proposition 72, which the company says forces a "mandated "one-size-fits-all" health care approach" for California businesses. "Wal-Mart believes companies should have the opportunity to provide benefit choices that both they and their employees can afford." Wal-Mart warns that Proposition 72 "would make California the only state in the nation to burden businesses and their employees with an expensive new health care tax at a time when many struggling businesses are just starting to rebound from the weakened economy."

What you can do: This is not the first time that Wal-Mart has opened up its corporate treasury to try to influence a ballot question. In some cases, Citizen Wal-Mart has even put itself on the ballot, financing issues that directly benefit its own land use proposals. Unlike most citizens, however, Wal-Mart is able to bankroll far in excess of what average California voters could afford. Wal-Mart hopes to help "buy" the election by disgorging its profits into the political arena, showing once again that when it comes to politics, corporations have more clout than citizens. Regardless of how one feels about the details of Proposition 72, the Wal-Mart financing of the opposition underscores the need to remove corporate money from electoral politics. For earlier stories about how Wal-Mart contributes to political candidates, search this database by "politics" or "donations".










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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