DMI Blog

Amy Traub

Hold Employers Accountable

It's not the solution to covering America's 45 million uninsured -- most of them are self-employed or work for small businesses. So what's the buzz about the new model for Fair Share Health Care legislation that requires large employers to pick up a share of the costs for employee health coverage?

I could just be coy and tell you to come to the Drum Major Institute's May 8th breakfast event on the topic to find out. But this is one topic that gets more interesting the more you know about it.

As I see it, Fair Share for Health Care is about corporate responsibility first, and health care second. The legislation doesn't apply to small businesses that genuinely lack the resources to provide employee health coverage, so it's never going to be a comprehensive solution to the crisis of uninsured America. All it does is require big employers to pay a certain amount for their employees health care, equivalent to what the average large employer already pays in the state. This will bring health insurance to more people wherever it is implemented. But just as signficantly, it draws the line at a business model in which large, profitable employers, who could afford to provide health insurance to their employees but instead choose to fatten their bottom line by foisting health care costs onto the public (via Medicaid and emergency room treatment) and onto employees themselves. It says that the public shouldn't have to bear these costs. Employees shouldn't have to bear these costs. And more responsible business, who already offer health coverage, shouldn't have to compete with this "low-road" business model.

The first statewide Fair Share for Health Care bill passed was in Maryland earlier this year over the governor's veto. DMI brings the law's sponsor, MD State Senator Gloria Lawlah to New York to talk about it.

There are already at least three different state-level bills in New York inspired by Senator Lawlah's legislation. One, which would cover all employers with more than 100 employees statewide, is being promoted by the Working Families Party. DMI brings WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor in to talk about it.

Another Maryland-inspired bill, sponsored by NY State Senator Diane Savino would focus on employees at "big box" stores that sell groceries. Senator Savino also joins us to discuss her approach.

From the perspective of actists on the ground, our third panelist will be Adrianne Shropshire, DMI fellow and Executive Director of New York Jobs with Justice.

From a business perspective, the panel will be introduced by John Catsimatidis, DMI Board Member and owner of the Red Apple Group, which includes one of the city's largest grocery store chains.

Amy Traub: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 11:49 AM, Apr 28, 2006 in Economy | Health Care | Labor | Medicaid | New York | States | Wal-Mart
Permalink | Email to Friend