Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Health Care Front and Center

Hats off to Errol Louis for revisiting the Health Care Security Act, still languishing in a City Council committee. The key point here is the roughly 420,000 New York City workers who, because they are uninsured, “end up using Medicaid and other government-funded anti-poverty programs to pay for health care.”

This, as Louis emphasizes, is nothing less than corporate welfare and it’s costing NYC tax payers around $466 million a year. Under the legislation sponsored by Councilmember Chris Quinn and being pushed by Jobs with Justice, around 60,000 uninsured workers would get coverage.

So, what’s the hang up? It seems that the Bloomberg administration is holding up the bill on a pretext. This is the same administration that has made it clear that it will leave no stone unturned to find New Yorkers who aren’t getting the benefits they’re entitled to. It seems, therefore, that the mayor feels it’s okay to further burden the tax payers but, God forbid, we should expect the BJ’s and the Gourmet Garages to take care of their workers.

Big Box Store Issue

As we have been continually emphasizing here, the health care issues goes to the heart of the box store fight in NYC. Already on Staten Island, a local community health awareness group has jumped on the anti-Wal-Mart bandwagon because of that company’s poor record on health benefits.

If the Mayor, Deputy Dan, and the rest of real estate team Bloomberg are going to cheerlead for stores like Wal-Mart and BJ’s the least it can do is to try to level the playing field so that, in the words of Paul Sonn of the Brenner Center, we can begin “to take health care out of compeititon.”