Continuing its remarkable transformation into a force for positive change in America’s Rube Goldberg health care system, Wal-Mart announced last week that it supports legislation requiring employers to provide health insurance for their workers.
The so-called employer mandate has been a centerpiece of the Big O’s plans to provide health insurance for nearly all Americans.
“We are for an employer mandate which is fair and broad in its coverage,” said Wal-Mart Chief Exec Mike Duke in a letter to the Coronated One.
Wal-Mart’s current stance represents a hard-to-believe metamorphosis from just a few years ago, when its reputation was sullied and its stock price pummeled by repeated run-ins with organized labor.
The letter was co-signed by Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, and John Podesta, who ran the Obama transition team and is now chief executive of the lefty think tank, Center for American Progress.
Wal-Mart has, in fact, already put its money where its mouth is. Only 5.5% of its employees lack health insurance. That compares favorably with the national rate of uninsured employees, which stands at 18%.
Support from the retail giant flies in the face of most other companies that have spoken publicly about the matter. Even the Chamber of Commerce opposes the mandate, claiming it would lead to lay-offs, wage cuts and a wave of bankruptcies.
And Neil Trautwein, a VP for the National Retail Federation said he was “flabbergasted” by Wal-Mart’s insolence. The mandate is “the single most destructive thing you could do to the health-care system shy of a single-payer system.”