CA Lawmaker to Propose 'Wal-Mart' Health Coverage Bill

February 3, 2005 ( - California may join a handful of other states in pressuring Wal-Mart and other large employers to beef up their employee health care coverage - at least if one state senator has anything to say about it.

State Senator Carole Migden   said her proposal would require companies that employ at least 10,000 people in California to spend at least 8% of their total payroll on health benefits or make payments into a state fund for the uninsured, the Los Angeles Times reported. She said the proposal was modeled after a new Maryland law (See  Veto of ‘Wal-Mart Bill’ Overridden in MD Senate ).

Wal-Mart has more than 70,000 employees in California. A 2004 study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center found that inadequate wages and benefits force workers at Wal-Mart stores in California to seek $$86 million in state aid for health care and other expenses.

Wal-Mart could be required to pay more than $50 million toward health care coverage for its workers under the proposal, Migden said. She expects her bill, which is still being drafted, to be introduced in the state Senate next week.

“We’re not trying to attack Wal-Mart,” Migden told the Times. “We’re trying to create a bill that forces large employers who make large profits as part of the California dream to be responsible about funding part of their employees’ insurance costs.”

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said she hadn’t seen Migden’s proposal, but she said similar bills in other states had done little to address the problem of uninsured citizens.

Several other states, including Washington, Connecticut and New Hampshire, have begun debates on what are being called “fair share health care” bills.