Powerful CA unions pushing ‘fair share health care’

May 29, 2013

By Katy Grimes

employeeunions

Labor unions are on the attack and using the legislative process to take down Walmart and other non-union businesses using the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare

A bill aimed at forcing large non-union businesses to cover the health care costs of all employees, regardless of employees’ part-time status, is making its way through the Legislature.

United power

Democrats claim Walmart and other large, “low-wage employers” are avoiding the Obamacare law by keeping wages low, and workers’ hours to a minimum, so workers qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s subsidized health care system for the poor and those with low incomes.

Obamacare already includes a provision to fine large employers if their full-time employees are forced to purchase a health plan on the new state health insurance exchange. That’s because the employees already are ineligible for Medi-Cal, or do not have employer-based coverage.

Labor unions justify their claims against Walmart because the über-retailer pays its executives millions in salaries each year, so there is no reason the company should get away with shifting its employee health care costs onto taxpayers.

The big penalty

The “Walmart loophole” bill, AB 880, by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, seeks to make it illegal for a large employer to reduce worker hours below 30 a week to avoid Obamacare fines and penalties.

AB 880 would require large employers to “pay their fair share when they dump workers onto Medi-Cal by cutting hours or wages in order to circumvent their responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act,” according to Gomez.

The law, classified as a “job-killer” by the California Chamber of Commerce, would also penalize employers whose wages are too low to keep employees off of Medi-Cal.

AB 880’s penalty is written purposely vague with the intent of being very painful to private-sector business. The proposed penalty on employers is based on 110 percent of the average cost of health care coverage. This includes both the employers’ and employee’s share of the premium.

Based on conservative estimates, the employer penalty will average more than $6,000 per employee. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, that is more than three times the federal penalty for not providing healthcare to an employee under the Affordable Care Act.

The motive

The real problem is that Walmart, a non-union company, provides jobs to people Democrats would prefer to see dependent on the government and on welfare.

But even low-wage jobs pay the bills for millions of Americans.

While the stated goal of AB 880 is to prod large businesses to offer health insurance by fining them more than the average cost of providing coverage, the money raised by AB 880 is meant to increase Medi-Cal provider rates, and to subsidize state costs for it.

In a sneaky provision in the bill, the proposed law also exempts the government as an employer. The bill says, “Large employer’ shall not include a state, city, county, city and county, district or any other governmental employer. … An employer responsibility penalty shall not be incurred by a state, county, city, city and county, district, or any other governmental entity.”

Pay your fair share, or else…

At the heart of the Affordable Care Act is the idealistic notion of “shared responsibility” between employers, employees and the government, contributing to a stable, affordable health care system for all.

This might have been possible 50 years ago before states and the federal government began heavily regulating insurance companies into submission.

I can already see tomorrow’s headlines: “Walmart forces Obamacare to turn to single payer system.”

“Single-payer” is a term used to describe a type of financing system in health care. A single-payer system would be setup such that the government would collect all health care fees, and pay out all health care costs.

A single-payer system was the original intent of Obamacare. In that vein, California’s Democratic politicians have embraced early implementation of Obamacare before any of the other states.

The way to get to a single-payer system is to force employers to pay the health insurance for all employees — part time and full time. When employers balk at this, single-payer will be ushered in.

A Google search of “Walmart” and “Obamacare” finds hundreds of stories blasting the evil super-retailer for providing low-paying jobs without benefits.  Democratic lawmakers claim large employers are trying to game the system merely because Walmart wants to retain the option of staffing with part-time workers.

“Fair share health care”

Sponsored by the California Labor Federation and the United Food and Commercial Workers, two of the largest, most aggressive labor unions in the state, the bill aims to force large non-union businesses to cover all employees, regardless of employees’ part-time status.

The labor union-run campaign, called “Fair share health care,” has collected nearly 12,000 petition signatures. The campaign is busing in large groups of union members to the Capitol all week to swarm legislative offices.

The Affordable Care Act already allows businesses of 50 employees or more to be penalized if their full-time workers are forced to buy health insurance from a new state exchange because the workers are neither covered by an employer plan nor eligible for Medi-Cal. But that’s not enough of a disincentive.

I was the Human Resource manager for 20 years with a large manufacturing company. We had many entry-level, minimum wage positions, and used part-time employees whenever possible, depending on the production needs of the company.

The company provided health benefits to all eligible full-time workers. But many of the lower paid full-time workers declined the company-provided insurance and instead signed up for Medi-Cal. There was nothing we could do about this.

The federal government and individual states meddled so long in insurance regulation, they drove the best health care system in the world to the brink of disaster. And instead of getting out of the way to allow for a free-market correction, President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress of 2010 made an unholy deal with the health care industry in a fateful story of the ugliest form of crony capitalism.

Now states are either embracing Obamacare, or rejecting it. California lawmakers love it.

35 comments

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  1. Steele, Ted, When only the very best will do!
    Steele, Ted, When only the very best will do! 29 May, 2013, 16:14

    Health insurance for most workers— a regular socialist paradise.

    Reply this comment
  2. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 29 May, 2013, 16:48

    I read some comment recently from an Historian, that all empires will eventually overreach somehow, perhaps through colonialism, and/or militarily. and/or financially, and they will decline in into the dust of history. Perhaps it is inevitable and universal health care, whether good intentioned or not is a sign of it. Whether liberal or conservative, it is not unreasonable to think we won t be able to pay for this, and our other obligations. It seems like this is going to end well or maybe that perception is from a US baby boomer that is used to the USA as number one. It may be our turn to go down the slide and face plant into the empty swimming pool. Ugh.

    Reply this comment
  3. Nathalie
    Nathalie 29 May, 2013, 16:56

    Another reason for companies to leave California.

    Reply this comment
  4. mary
    mary 29 May, 2013, 22:24

    what a complete travesty. we have better health in this country than most nations.but we are bonbarded constantly by drug companies,frightened by the food we eat,doctors telling us when to come in with follow ups,there should be investigative reporting on this type of tactics.all the pills in the world will not save a life,i have not heard of a cure for anything in years.but yet hospitals are going up all over the country to treat people,they never say cure.aids,ms,cancer and all the rest of known deseases.

    Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 29 May, 2013, 23:04

    Fine line between regulation and Facism!

    Most moving doomers we help cite high housing costs, lack of trainable entry level workers, declining purchasing power and demand from California consumers….reasons to move out!

    Gotta be more…we never pressure a down and out doomer for more reasons…pity these folks…..tapped out and the bullseyes on their backs riddled with flack!

    Reply this comment
  6. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 30 May, 2013, 08:47

    “we have better health in this country than most nations”

    Sorry Mary, that really isn’t the case. When it comes to infant mortality and other measures, we’re not in the top 20. But we are, by far, the most expensive health care system in the world. It’s also important to note that we are one of only two developed countries in the world who do not have some form of universal health care.

    Unfortunately, the “Dog is happy to have us continue the race to the bottom, so that all workers have Wal-Mart style health care, wages and other benefits. In their view, it’s OK to make workers so poor that they have to rely on our tax dollars for public benefits, while the Waltons and their buds grow fatter on profits and tax breaks.

    Reply this comment
  7. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 30 May, 2013, 09:00

    Steve: If you’re right, then why do Canadians save up their money to get real health care in the United States when they get tired of waiting in lines for routine procedures? Even the socialist premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams, went South to get real care when he got sick:
    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2010/02/03/danny_millions_williams_heads_south_for_heart_surgery.html

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  8. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 30 May, 2013, 09:22

    Wow, you mean “average Canadian citizens” like the premier of Newfoundland and other rich folks can come south for some specialized treatment. Big deal. You neglected to point out that the overwhelming majority of Canadian citizens support their health care system.

    And you fail to answer the fundamental question I raised: Why should corporations be allowed to pay such low benefits that their workers are forced onto public assistance, while they reap profits and tax breaks? You apparently think it is OK to spend my hard-earned tax dollars for that. But as to using them to help the sick, disabled and unemployed, not so much.

    Reply this comment
  9. surfpunk
    surfpunk 30 May, 2013, 09:57

    steve, 30 day wait for a EKG, my cousin went to the hospital_emergency 30 days ago for shortnes of breath.the doc. suspected heart problems scheduled an ekg.after 30 days we will find out today hopefully. Canadians do not like their heath care. Canadians are forced to support the heath care system, just like we are going to be forced to support obama care.

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    1

    Reply this comment
  10. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 30 May, 2013, 09:58

    How come no one will answer my question about Wal-Mart?

    Reply this comment
  11. doug
    doug 30 May, 2013, 10:09

    steve,
    the premier looking for specialized care and our large corps are doing the same thing, looking for the path of least resistance for the best outcome.
    nobody is forcing low level workers to take a job at a place like walmart.
    if a bill passes for 30 hours to be the new full time, guess what? you make less at the end of the week. you spend less, and if thats the case to add cost to the employer, someone will probably just get laid off.

    this will be another nail in the coffin for CA businesses.
    “wealth flows in the path of least resistance”

    Reply this comment
  12. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 30 May, 2013, 10:28

    “nobody is forcing low level workers to take a job at a place like walmart.”

    And just where the hell are they supposed to go? It amazes me that when we have millions unemployed and when corporations are sitting on their profits rather than creating jobs, the Rabid Right wants us to think that the unemployed, people on welfare and those in low-wage positions can just snap their fingers and find jobs or better paying jobs.

    That was the way it used to work. But thanks to the Wal-Marting of America, the good paying jobs aren’t there any more.

    Reply this comment
  13. surfpunk
    surfpunk 30 May, 2013, 11:41

    steve,good paying jobs gone,the PROGS. have been running the state for years,are the unions blameless?

    Reply this comment
  14. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 30 May, 2013, 12:06

    Steve wrote, “It amazes me that when we have millions unemployed and when corporations are sitting on their profits rather than creating jobs….” Tax profits more and jobs will just keep going to Communist China and other capitalist countries (heavy irony intended).

    “the Rabid Right.” We now know those are code words for, “Sic the IRS on conservative and libertarian groups.”

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  15. us citizen
    us citizen 30 May, 2013, 12:39

    Steve…..no one has the right to tell a company what they should pay or how long their work week should be. Walmart offers ENTRY level jobs. This does not mean you are suppose to work there for the rest of your life or work there if you dont like it there. Their business model is mostly part time. Why do you think that you or anyone else has the right to tell them what to do?

    You create your own reality. If you drop out of school and this is all you are capable of, then you made that choice. Walmart didnt. And they should not be responsible for your life’s choices.

    Also a company will expand or contract when IT wants to, not when you think they should. A company is in business to make money. It is not there to hold your hand. If you dont like what they do, you have the right to quit and move on.

    As far as mortality rate, we have been invaded by third world countries, who come here and have not had the best of health care since the day they were born. Seems to me that their health habits maybe influencing our statistics. I have heard nothing but story after story of regular old Canadians coming here for health care because of the chaos in that country. Stossel, I believe, did a great documentary on this.

    Reply this comment
  16. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 30 May, 2013, 13:49

    Get real, John.

    It is illegal for groups to claim to be “social welfare” organizations in order to get a tax break while spending 90 percent of their time on politics. Yes, it was wrong to single out the Tea Parties and “patriots” (although Democratic groups can be just as much “patriots” as Republicans). But these groups are getting tax breaks and using my tax money for political activity…and that’s also wrong. That is the larger issue. Democratic, Libertarian and Republican organizations that do this should be stopped.

    Also, there used to be a time when companies felt some social responsibility for the workers who made their success possible. Wish the Tea Party could take us back to those kind of “good old days” instead of today’s “greed is good” philosophy.

    Reply this comment
  17. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 30 May, 2013, 13:56

    This is a sad commentary on what is going on in our country: http://youtu.be/QPKKQnijnsM

    Just take a few moments and watch this, please.

    Reply this comment
  18. BobA
    BobA 30 May, 2013, 21:01

    Steve Mehlman:

    Your argument seems reasonable but where is the accounting for the consequences of profligate government spending, overbearing and inane government regulations, the government rewarding failure and punishing success, a voluminous and incomprehensible tax code, unchecked illegal immigration, fed monetary policy, TBTF banks and crony capitalism in your argument?

    The problem we suffer from in this country is straight forward and simple: our government has a long track record of breaking what works, subsidizing what doesn’t work and then institutionalizing its failures at our expense ( pick a government dept or agency).

    Reply this comment
  19. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 31 May, 2013, 06:56

    Oh Bo-bo– another long general post whining with no specifics…..zzzzzzzzz——-???

    What regulations would you abolish Bobo?

    Reply this comment
  20. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 31 May, 2013, 09:50

    Probably all of them, Ted.

    As Chief Justice Holmes so eloquently put it: “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” So it stands to reason that anti-tax zealots don’t want a civilized society; they prefer the law-of-the-jungle, survival of the fittest model.

    Reply this comment
  21. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 31 May, 2013, 20:42

    Listen…….Calif. is a low ender service economy….

    Labor is exploited to make a buck….employees are low skilled with marginally upward futures….and poorly educated…..

    Service economies grow slowly….hard to increase productivity of service workers….to afford wage increases, borrowing/leverage possibilities or accumulation of investment capital….

    So….Facism is tempting….punish employers….

    Reply this comment
  22. BobA
    BobA 1 June, 2013, 08:33

    Steve Mehlman:

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with paying for a civil society but why should our tax dollars pay for some politician’s pet project that only serves the interests of his political donors? Why should our tax dollars be sent to foreign countries that hate our guts? Why should out tax dollars be spent on welfare, health care and all the other goodies awarded to illegal immigrants? Why should our tax dollars go to failed companies like Solyndra, et al.? Why should our tax dollars be spent to prop up foreign banks? Why should our tax dollars be used to keep to big to fail banks from failing?

    The American people are being taxed more and getting less and less in return. I don’t know about you but there’s something inherently wrong with that equation. Labeling people who have come to this same conclusion as “anti-tax zealots” is your prerogative but I ask at what amount of taxation do you become an “anti-tax zealot?

    Personally, I think you’re characterizing taxation as a black and white issue (e.g., for or against taxes) and discounting the full spectrum of the tax issue. No one, at least most rational people, are opposed to taxes to maintain the civil society we live in. What I and others like oppose is over-taxation and getting nothing in return for it but a bigger tax bill.

    You can not honest tell me that you agree with everything our tax dollars are spent on or can you??

    Reply this comment
  23. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 1 June, 2013, 09:28

    Bobo.

    This guy…no hope….

    As for you…Pack and Ship……Steve will do ya….Matter of time!

    Reply this comment
  24. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 1 June, 2013, 10:38

    Of course I don’t agree with many of our tax policies or everything that our taxes are being spent on, Bob.

    A few examples:

    Giving tax breaks to organizations who claim to be “social welfare” groups while their primary purpose is political action.

    Giving tax breaks to companies that move jobs overseas.

    Giving tax breaks to companies to encourage them to create jobs and innovate, only to have the companies sit on their profits instead. (By the way, at least Solyndra was supposed to create breakthroughs in new technology. Companies like Enron got take breaks and did nothing but screw consumers. Where was your outrage them?)

    There are many pet projects and subsidies that are being funded that shouldn’t be. There is also wasteful spending in many government departments, including Defense. Problem is that when the Right calls for cuts, they don’t single out farm subsidies, the “bridge to nowhere”, or cost overruns at the Pentagon. They take aim at programs designed to help children, the elderly and disabled, and those unemployed through no fault of their own, people who most need our help.

    Sadly, there are people who disagree with ANYTHING our tax dollars are being spent on. There are people like Grover Norquist, who brags that his goal in life is to “shrink the size of government so we can drown it in the bathtub.”
    THOSE are the anti-tax zealots. Are you one of them?

    Reply this comment
  25. BobA
    BobA 2 June, 2013, 18:26

    Steve Mehlman:

    Let me start by saying I believe in a small government that lives within it’s means and within the boundaries of its Constitution.

    There should be no such thing as a tax break for anyone for any reason, period.

    Solyndra? I’m an electrical engineer by education and profession with 30+ years experience in private industry. You justification for giving money to Solyndra is laughable at best. Private industry and what people will buy determine what technologies will be used in the future and not government dictates. It was tried in the old Soviet Union; tried in Communist China; tried in Cuba and tried in North Korea. They all failed. Or are you a proponent of communism?

    You talk about the right but what about the left? Social engineering via welfare and other state & federal subsidies is a good thing? That’s called socialism and the problem with socialism is that they eventually run out of other peoples money.

    The left has no interest in reducing poverty, joblessness, homelessness or social spending because those “ills’ have been institutionalized and there are millions of government bureaucrats who earned a comfortable living off of other peoples miseries. The more you subsidize something the more of it you get.

    Our government has spent trillions of dollars since to 1960s ostensibly to eliminate poverty yet there are more poor people today than ever. And the government bureaucracy created to carry out that task has grown in size and scope consuming ever growing amounts of money and you say we must feed it more?

    It seems to me that the poor and homeless aren’t the problem. The problem is that big fat bloated pig called government bureaucracy that consumes most of the money allegedly spent on poverty. Why is it that we throw trillions in one end and get pennies out the other end? Solve that problem and you’ll solve poverty.

    Why is it that people who think as you do never ask why does government costs so much and where is all that money going? Or are we suppose to just close our eyes, feed the government pig, pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves a lie about some noble deed that money is going towards?

    You ask am I an anti-tax zealot. I am anti over-taxation. I’m against socialist sycophants trying to guilt trip me into paying more taxes. And most of all, I’m against the government sticking a gun to my head demanding more and more of my diminishing income to stuff down the maw of its over-fed bureaucratic pig.

    Reply this comment
  26. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 2 June, 2013, 19:35

    Steve: You wrote, “As Chief Justice Holmes so eloquently put it: ‘Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.’”

    Actually, Holmes was an associate justice. The exact quote is: “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”
    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=275&invol=87

    And he wrote that in 1927, when the top federal income tax rate was 25% (compared to 40% today); most people in the middle class paid no income tax at all; there was no combined 15.3% Social Security and Medicare tax; and California had no income tax.

    So, I agree with you: We should return to the “civilized” tax rates of 1927.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  27. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 2 June, 2013, 19:43

    Steve: As to what to do with the Wal-Mart situation. First, its coverage is about the same as in the rest of the retail industry: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/walmart-health-insurance-program/

    So you’re just picking on them as part of the unions’ attempts to unionize the company.

    What to do about many of them going on Medicaid/Medi-Cal? Simple: End the Medicaid/Medi-Cal programs. This would do two things. First, competition in the medical field would increase to help these people, driving down cost. Why are costs dropping sharply everywhere else, such as computers, but not in the medical field? Because only the medical field is run so much by government.

    For the poor or those with low-incomes who couldn’t afford care,charity would take over, as it did before Medicare and Medicaid were imposed by LBJ 50 years ago. As Dr. Ron Paul (the former congressman) has pointed out, when he started out in medicine in the early 1960s, hospitals took care of the poor for free, and doctors rotated offering their services to the poor for free, or at a reduced fee. The poor got good medicine from a kindly, free-market doctor; instead of today, where they get sub-par care from a snarling government functionary.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  28. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 3 June, 2013, 07:40

    John— You’d have hated OWH! LOL. Oh my! The tea b—– and the fox news crowd would’ve created vintage whines!

    Although we libs LOVED him! OWH was the good kind of conservative re taxes and of course THE archetypal regulator!

    Reply this comment
  29. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 3 June, 2013, 10:17

    John:

    Your “analysis” of why health care costs are rising is laughable.

    See below for a perfect example of the REAL reason health costs continue to skyrocket and why health care reform is needed.

    “The high price paid for colonoscopies mostly results not from top-notch patient care, according to interviews with health care experts and economists, but from business plans seeking to maximize revenue; haggling between hospitals and insurers that have no relation to the actual costs of performing the procedure; and lobbying, marketing and turf battles among specialists that increase patient fees.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/health/colonoscopies-explain-why-us-leads-the-world-in-health-expenditures.html?_r=2&

    Colonoscopies Explain Why U.S. Leads the World in Health Expenditures
    http://www.nytimes.com

    Reply this comment
    • CalWatchdog
      CalWatchdog 3 June, 2013, 10:55

      Steve,

      I’m glad I could give you some chuckles. I saw that NY Times story and am going to write about it. The quote you included shows precisely what is wrong: ” haggling between hospitals and insurers that have no relation to the actual costs of performing the procedure; and lobbying, marketing and turf battles among specialists that increase patient fees.”

      You neglected to notice that, that passage you quoted, the patients themselves have no say in the matter. It’s the Bigs that decide everything: Big Insurance, Big Hospital, and Big Specialists, and Big Government.

      In the pre-1965 system, as Ron Paul said, the patient was at the center: he decided what he would pay, and haggled with doctors and hospitals. Charity took care of the poor. It was a humane, free-market system; instead of the inhumane, Crony Capitalist-part socalist system we now suffer under.

      Oh, one of the worst “reforms” actually came in the early 1970s when Nixon gave us HMOs. So, yes, another socialist Republican was at fault. Please keep blaming Republicans when they are wrong.

      — John Seiler

      Reply this comment
  30. Queeg
    Queeg 3 June, 2013, 15:25

    When in recent memory was a Republican correct?

    Reply this comment
  31. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 3 June, 2013, 20:28

    Nixon on the POW thing was the last time I remember. And probably the last decent Republican. Watergate notwithstanding.

    Reply this comment
  32. Queeg
    Queeg 3 June, 2013, 21:44

    Teddy…you forgot…….the young rhino Rubio who is slowly building us a bridge to Havana!

    Reply this comment
  33. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 4 June, 2013, 07:56

    LOL– yes Queeg– I forgot about hall monitor Rubio!

    Reply this comment
  34. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 4 June, 2013, 07:57

    And Darryl Issa the car thief/insurance fraud car alarm magnate! LOL

    Reply this comment

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