So another example of a broker system where employers are supposed to pay for health insurance is the big retailer, like Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the nation, in terms of market capitalization. And among the most profitable. It's the largest retailer on Earth.
And they don't buy health insurance for all their workers.
Even worse, people who work for Wal-Mart 30 or 35 or 40 hours a week, can qualify for Medicaid insurance (FamilyCare in Illinois), which the government picks up.
So we taxpayers subsidize Wal-Mart's bottom line.
We ought to do something about it.
Mary Flowers had a bill, HB 1044, which would have set up a list of the companies with employees that are on Medicaid. A little sunshine, you might say. Jack Franks jumped on it, and he's got a great populist sense on the insurance industry. So did Patrick Verschoore, Jack McGuire and Milton Patterson. Good combo: black and white, rural, city and suburban.
The bill lost on tax day (ironically enough -- the day when we all pay more so Wal-Mart can make more money), 41-62-1. Here's the vote.
But that didn't stop the indefatigable Mary Flowers. In the last few weeks of session (hat tip to Rich Miller here), she asked the Speaker to insert the provision into a larger bill. And Speaker Madigan did. The larger bill passed, it's now on Governor Blagojevich's desk, and his spokeswoman said he'll sign it.
Well, the Chamber doesn't like the bill. They say it's just a list of shame, in this well-written Sun-Times article by Ben Fischer. And let me just let Mary Flowers, as accurately quoted by Ben Fischer, respond to that. (You can hear her tone in these comments)
Shaming businesses isn't what the list is meant for, said Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago), but she doesn't particularly care if that's an offshoot.
"If they don't want to be embarrassed, they can do something about it," she said. "But you tell me, why is it that the taxpayers of the state of Illinois are funding the richest company in the nation?"
and then later
"It appears to me there's a new system that the taxpayers are not aware of . . . where businesses are passing their responsibilities on to us." she said.
Congratulations Representative Flowers!