Friday, February 09, 2007


Walmart calling for universal health care is not at all surprising

I was surprised to read that Walmart is part of a coalition including unions. AT&T, Intel, Kelly Services, the Service Employees International Union and the Communications Workers of America are all working to make this happen.

I've been waiting for this. When business is hurting enough, I felt, it would get on the bandwagon. And that is what has happened. Walmart will certainly benefit if the government provides universal health care to all of its employees. In many communities, that's already happening. The company is criticized for not providing benefits, so that its employees end up with healthcare at government expense. (In Hawaii, there is a law requiring them to insure full-time employees.)

But let's not look a gift horse in the mouth. This could be the tipping point to get our federal government to work on universal health care for everyone, something that has overwhelmingly been supported by the people (memo to Congresspeople: Remember us? Your constitutents?).

It might just work. Clearly, Walmart and the others in the coalition have more clout than we do with our own government. Probably other companies will join with them.

Health insurers are not dumb, and they certainly have contingency plans to avoid their own annihilation. They also have large amounts of money. So do drug manufacturers, who don't want to see medical care centralized because they will be forced into negotiations that will drive down their exhorbitant prices for prescription medications.

It will be interesting to see how Hawaii Republican lawmakers regroup on this issue, now that business is getting behind universal health care. Stay tuned.

Do I dare get my hopes up? It won't be an automatic thing, citizens will have to get behind the train and push.

Now's our chance, folks.

Meanwhile, please support universal health care in Hawaii. If the feds provide it eventually, better for us as a state. By providing healthcare for everyone right here on our islands we will produce the same benefits for our local businesses that Walmart is looking for nationally. And, of course, get everyone the health care they need and deserve.


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