Monday, June 20, 2005

Leeching Off State Health Care

A while back it was reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that 10 corporations led by Wal-Mart and, ironically, Aurora Health Care are clipping state taxpayers for about $6.4 million a year because they do not offer health care benefits to 2,900 of their employees and families. This forces those workers to enroll in BadgerCare, the state's tax-supported health care program for the poor.

Here's something you did not know: Wal-Mart, which turned a $10.3 billion profit in 2004, and the other nine companies have contributed $330,267 in campaign contributions to candidates for statewide office and the Legislature since 1993.

Two state lawmakers have introduced a proposal to require employers to reimburse the state for providing insurance to uninsured or under-insured employees, but we'll see how far it gets. Business interests led by the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which is ever-vigilant at defending breaks and giveaways to business, says state-subsidized health care for workers of Fortune 500 and multi-national companies means the state program is working correctly.

Overall these powerful special interests have contributed $14.34 million to current legislators including $11.47 million, or 80 percent of their contributions, to Republicans who control the Legislature. A Wisconsin Democracy Campaign report earlier this year showed how millions of dollars a year in state aid meant to help low and middle income people and start-up businesses are being given to affluent communities and big companies like Wal-Mart.

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