Yesterday Maryland state legislators passed a law that requires companies with 10,000 employees to spend at least eight percent of their payrolls on health insurance or pay the difference into a state Medicaid fund. Wal-Mart – long criticized for insuring less than half of its employees, many of whom end up on Medicaid – took the law personally.
The nation’s biggest employer parried with the predictable claims of partisan politics and villainous special-interest groups. Wal-Mart, which has threatened to cancel plans for a distribution center in the state if the law was passed, managed only to come off like both a termpermental child and a cold corporation (a tough balancing act). Clearly, they didn’t read this. Otherwise, they might have tried to come up with a more sympathetic rebuke.
Though the company hasn’t announced how much it spends on health care, some of the lawmakers charged it will pay little more than it already does. If that’s true, it means Wal-Mart would rather gripe through faceless spokespeople than throw their workers a bone (shocking, I’m sure). That brings up another are perhaps more important question: which is hurting Wal-Mart more – its policies or its reactions to criticism?