Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Assembly tackles Wal-Mart bill for workers' health care

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The California Assembly is slated to take up a bill Thursday that fines large employers whose workers qualify for Medi-Cal.

AB880, better known as the “Wal-Mart” bill, applies to any business in California with more than 500 employees, but critics say it’s clearly crafted to force the nation’s largest company to pay a bigger share of California’s health care costs.

Here’s how it works: 

If a large company gives California workers less than full-time work that results in less than full healthcare benefits, or pays so little that those workers end up on state-subsidized healthcare, that company would pay a fee to the state: 110 percent of the average cost of health insurance provided by large employers — roughly $6,000 per an employee by one estimate.

Physicians, labor and consumer groups that sponsored the measure say it’s only fair that these companies pay a fine because the state would otherwise have to pick up the costs for their employees.

Controversial?  You bet. The California Retailers Association and California Business Properties Association, oppose it. The Chamber of Commerce labeled it a job killer bill.

That’s why the Assembly is scheduled to vote on AB880 before member Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley) resigns on July 1 to take his seat on the L.A. City Council, which will result in Democrats losing the two-thirds super majority they need to pass the measure without Republican support.


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