Savino Proposes Fair Share Health Care Fund

Diane J. Savino

March 07, 2006

Albany, NY—In order to set a minimum standard for health care coverage for working New Yorkers, Senator Diane Savino has introduced a proposal called the Fair Share Health Care Fund. Monday, April 10, she called upon the Senate Majority to bring the bill to the floor of the Senate for a full vote.

Savino said her bill would increase health coverage for New Yorkers working for large retail stores, like Walmart, while lessening the burden of state subsidized healthcare on taxpayers.

Currently, more than a quarter of retail employees, whose salaries often fall below poverty wages, are uninsured. These workers are forced to rely on government funded health care programs instead, contributing to skyrocketing Medicaid costs.

“That’s not fair to the employees and it’s certainly not fair to the taxpayers who have to pick up the tab,” said Senator Savino.

The bill would require those employers to provide minimum health care benefits for their employees based on the number of hours worked in the year. The measure would apply to employers who operate at least one retail store, have at least 500 employees statewide, and have a certain amount of space dedicated to the sale of groceries.

Savino said stores that do not offer affordable health coverage enjoy an advantage over employers who struggle to provide health care for their employees. As a result, some stores can offer lower prices for their products and gain a competitive advantage, while forcing employees to seek out publicly subsidized healthcare programs such as Medicaid.

“Stores such as Wal-Mart that do not offer their employees affordable health care benefits are able to sell their products for a lower price than their competitors, but they do it by shortchanging employees,” Savino said. “And who ends up paying the difference? The taxpayers.”

“Just as the minimum wage sets standards for employee wages, this bill establishes minimum standards for health care coverage,” Savino said. “No employee of a multi-billion dollar, multi-national Corporation should be forced to go without medical care, nor should they be forced to resort to Medicaid. Furthermore, taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize these businesses by providing health care for their employees.”

Senator Savino’s motion to bring the bill to the floor failed when the Senate Majority unanimously withheld their support.