Women Leaders Declare Closing ‘Walmart Loophole’ a Top Priority

Women have been hit especially hard by cuts to the Medi-Cal program in recent years. And access to care for women will be even more challenged in coming years if large corporations like Walmart continue to avoid their responsibility to pay a fair share of health care costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Today in Sacramento, women leaders in the legislature came together with women workers and California NOW to declare protecting women’s health by passing AB 880 a top priority for women this year.

AB 880 protects women’s health by preventing Walmart and other large employers from exploiting what’s come to be known as the “Walmart loophole” in the ACA. The loophole allows profitable corporations to shift their costs onto taxpayers.  By allowing the state’s largest employers to dump their workers onto state-funded Medi-Cal rather than pay their fair share for health care, the loophole shortchanges the Medi-Cal program that is an important source of healthcare coverage for women.

In fact, women make up the bulk of adults who receive health care through Medi-Cal.  The system already suffers from a shortage of doctors needed to deliver health care to women and other low-income, elderly and disabled patients.  Without AB 880, nearly 400,000 workers could be dumped onto Medi-Cal by 2019, according to a UC Berkeley report.  This will put more pressure on the Medi-Cal program and undercut the intent of the ACA to improve health care and make it more cost-effective.

Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus:

California’s women are counting on us to keep the promise of the Affordable Care Act to help women of all ages get and stay healthy.  We can’t keep Medi-Cal strong if we let a few huge companies get away with shifting their costs onto the rest of us, while shortchanging care. As legislators, it's time we hold the biggest employers accountable for doing their fair share for health care by passing AB 880.

Walmart has been pushing its workers onto taxpayer-funded programs for years. The problem has been exacerbated recently as Walmart and some other large profitable corporations are exploiting the loophole by cutting hours and wages so their workers qualify for Medi-Cal.

Connie Leyva, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1428:

When Walmart refuses to pay its fair share of health care costs, women and families suffer. AB 880 is commonsense legislation that demands large, profitable corporations do their part to ensure that workers have access to quality, affordable health coverage.

AB 880 author Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez said his legislation will ensure large corporations are paying their fair share and will help sustain the Medi-Cal system in coming years, ensuring low-income women have access to health care.                                                         

I’m proud to join leading California women today to stand up for the care our mothers, daughters and sisters count on. AB 880 is a responsible solution that protects taxpayers while enabling Medi-Cal to serve California families better. This legislation that holds the biggest, most profitable companies accountable to do their part under the Affordable Care Act while protecting individuals and small and mid-sized businesses who are doing the right thing.

Today’s event was part of the California Women of Labor conference, which brought together more than 150 women workers from across California to speak with their elected representatives about priority legislation like AB 880.