When AB 880 comes up for a vote this week in the California Assembly, lawmakers will be given a rare (and dare we say golden) opportunity. California has the chance to lead the nation in ensuring that large corporations like Walmart pay their fair share of health care costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Because of what’s known as the “Walmart Loophole,” large corporations are able to skirt their responsibility by pushing workers onto taxpayer-funded Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). Walmart’s army of accountants knows exactly how to reduce the company’s costs by violating the spirit of the ACA: just cut workers' hours and wages low enough, and taxpayers pick up the tab for health care — while Walmart gets off scot-free.
AB 880 closes the loophole by penalizing large companies that have workers on Medi-Cal. It’s basic fairness. If Walmart wants to reduce wages and hours, at the very least it shouldn’t be rewarded for doing so.
Some opponents of AB 880 suggest that this bill isn’t about Walmart. But that’s wrong. It's ALL about Walmart, which is the largest private employer in the country and notorious for pushing its costs onto taxpayers. In fact, 99.8% of California employers are exempt from AB 880, which only applies to the very largest corporations in the state. Of the .2% that remain, many, like Costco, pay employees a decent wage and offer affordable health coverage, which means AB 880 would not impact them either. So, we really are talking about a small handful of bad actors… like Walmart.
California Walmart workers know all too well what the cost of Walmart’s business model is to them and to taxpayers.
Amy Stinnett works as a cashier making $10 an hour at the Wal-Mart store in Placerville.
It's not enough to make ends meet for the 21-year-old single mother. Stinnett and her son are on MediCal, the California Medicaid program. She relies on food stamps for her son, and borrows money from her family to buy diapers and pay rent.
That's because in the last six months, Stinnett has been scheduled to work 20 hours or fewer a week, which isn't enough to qualify for Wal-Mart benefits.
“I'm barely scraping by with what I make,” she said. “I have no money whatsoever for emergencies.”
Amy is doing her best to get by. She works for one of the most profitable companies in the world, and she’s trying to take care of her family. Yet she still has to rely on Medi-Cal, because Walmart cares more about its bottom line than it does about her or her co-workers.
California needs to step up to remedy this problem. Walmart may never do right by its workers, but we sure shouldn’t provide incentives for them to treat Amy and her co-workers poorly and dump costs onto taxpayers.
So when legislators cast votes on AB 880 this week, we hope they remember what this bill is about. At its core, it’s about whether California wants to reward Walmart and other very large, profitable companies for mistreating workers like Amy. It’s about whether we want to protect taxpayers from having to pay tens of millions of dollars every year because Walmart simply would rather unload its costs onto us.
Walmart’s hired guns are swarming the Capitol every day trying to influence votes. We simply can’t let Walmart win.
It’s time to stand up to Walmart and stand up for Amy and her co-workers. Click here to contact your legislators today urge them to vote YES on AB 880!