Sunday, January 15, 2006

Maryland got the ball rolling

Latah County's State Representative Tom Trail had some interesting news about the Idaho House Speaker Bruce Newcomb (a Republican, natch)
Wal-Mart — With all the discussion taking place in Moscow about the possibility of a giant Wal-Mart getting started, it is advisable to keep your eyes on what might happen at the state level. I talked with Speaker Bruce Newcomb. Speaker Newcomb told me that Wal-Mart has “sucked dry” two communities in his district. Many small businesses have gone out of business, and property taxes produced by businesses have fallen off.

Speaker Newcomb is also concerned about companies like Wal-Mart that pay low wages and limited health benefits. Many states have discovered that Wal-Mart and other large companies encourage their workers to seek state assistance for health benefits, welfare, food stamps, and other similar forms of assistance. This is shifting medical costs to the taxpayer. The Speaker has asked Health and Welfare to conduct a survey of all companies who employ over 10,000 people in the state to assess how prevalent this problem is. He is ready to introduce a Fair Health Care Insurance piece of legislation modeled after that of some 20 some other states. This would require big box companies to contribute at least 8 percent of their pay roll to employee health care. The state of Maryland just passed this type of legislation (overriding a veto on the way).

While I can't really claim to have any idea whether this is the best plan for improving the lot of America's uninsured (many do not), I am very glad to see some kind of action being taken to address the health care crisis in this country.

Now, national Democrats, get on the ball here and start talking this and other solutions up.

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