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What Iowans Should Know About Walmart, Medicaid and Branstad

One issue that was almost totally ignored in the recent Iowa legislative was Gov. Branstad’s vow to not accept expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Personally I thought that it should be a central issue, but trying to bring the voting public up on how this would affect Iowa was an effort in education that I doubt many candidates were willing to spend their precious time on. I mean that sincerely. When a candidate gets just a bit of time that a voter will actually spend paying attention to them, they need to hit them with the best pitch possible.

Many months ago Governor Branstad, after the Supreme Court said that the Medicaid section of the ACA was not mandatory, took it upon himself to reject any future expanded Medicaid money in the name of the state. My hope was that if enough legislators were elected who favored the Medicaid expansion they could pressure even a Branstad to change his position.

But that was not to be. My other thought is that the GOP in general feel that poor people must be punished for being poor and that those that have caused their poverty do not deserve punishment. Often these folks are rewarded by the state with tax breaks.

This is where we get to Walmart. In a bit of news the M$M (mainstream media, mostly corporate) most likely ignored, it was revealed that as one the nations largest takers of government handouts, Walmart’s low wages force its employees to seek government assistance especially food stamps and Medicaid which helps poor folks get some level of medical care.

Based on an average size store, a single Walmart costs about $420,000 in subsidies. From what I have heard, their hiring process includes instructions on how to sign up for government aid programs. How many other places of business puposely use government aid as part of their compensation package? If your knew a company was using your tax dollars as part of its compensation package wouldn’t you feel just a bit miffed? Yet they have been doing it for years and no one seems to care.

So Branstad doesn’t want to expand Medicaid in Iowa. Will this be directed at companies like Walmart who are obviously exploiting the system which was not set up to subsidize corporations, but to help individuals? I doubt it. Remember that the GOP in Iowa fought tooth and nail a few years ago to let Walmart keep a huge tax loophole that allows Walmart to pay little to no tax in Iowa. When Branstad rejects Medicaid, the Walmart employee will suffer, but not the corporation.

But there is still a law out there that hospitals must treat those that show up in their emergency rooms whether they can pay or not. So I expect in Iowa that will be the new Walmart health plan – go to the emergency room. But the emergency room is the most expensive form of health care and someone will be expected to pay. Currently that bill is paid with higher costs to medical premiums that most will be forced to buy or will be subsidized to buy under the ACA. Or in other words – you – in higher premiums. Walmart wins again.

What a great argument one more time for single payer healthcare. But until then, remember when you go into Walmart you have already given them a thousand dollars or so this year just because they are there. Hope you can save that much, but I really doubt you can. And that is only the surface of Walmart’s affect on your community.

Let me end with some words from the recently re-elected Alan Grayson, often called “the congressman with guts” on Walmart subsidies:

“The taxpayer pays for the earned income credit,” he said. “The taxpayer pays for Medicaid. The taxpayer pays for unemployment insurance when they cut hours down. And the taxpayer pays for other forms of public assistance like food stamps. I think the taxpayer is getting fed up of paying these things when, in fact, Walmart could give every employee its got, even the CEO, a 30 percent raise and still be profitable.”

“In state after state after state, Walmart employees represent the largest group of Medicaid recipients, the largest group of food stamp recipients, and taxpayers shouldn’t have to bear that burden,” Grayson said. “It should be Walmart. So, we’re going to take that burden and put it where it belongs: on Walmart.”

 

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