Business Journalism, self-indicted

The following is a business section article from the August 6, 2004 Boston Globe. It contains such an incredible mix of distortions and misconceptions that even trying to unravel them is just too painful to contemplate, so I'll just let Steve Bailey speak for himself --

CORPORATE FREELOADERS

Author(s): STEVE BAILEY Date: August 6, 2004 Page: D1 Section: Business

We have a list of deadbeat dads. We have a registry of sex offenders, which we now post on the Internet. Coming soon: a list of Massachusetts' corporate freeloaders. This could be good reading.

With no fanfare and over the veto of Governor Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts Legislature last month became the first in the nation to require the Commonwealth to compile an annual list of which companies' employees and their dependents use state health benefits the most, and what it costs taxpayers. The requirement, included in the state budget, applies to employers with more than 50 workers. American medicine is the best in the world, but paying for it is a constant game of pass the buck. Increasingly, the private sector is passing the buck to the public sector. In 2001, about 67 percent of Americans under age 65 got their healthcare coverage through their employer, according to the Center for Studying Health Care System Change. By 2003, that number had fallen dramatically to 63 percent. Meanwhile, those under 65 getting government coverage increased to 12 percent from 9 percent. People still went to the doctor; the difference was who paid.

In Massachusetts, healthcare is the biggest, fastest-growing piece of the $24 billion state budget. So the Legislature is dead right to ask which companies aren't providing coverage to their employees, and at what cost. "Having clear information on the extent to which healthy, financially robust employers have significant parts of their workforce using publicly sponsored health insurance programs is important," says John McDonough, executive director of Health Care for All.

Romney vetoed the plan, saying the Office of Health and Human Services does not have the information on employers to complete the required report. But Amy Lischko, the agency's assistant commissioner, said that while there are problems ahead, the state already requires those who use both MassHealth and the uncompensated care pool to list their employers. She said the agency is still working out how to respond to the new disclosure rules.

This shouldn't be allowed to slip. In Georgia, an internal audit of who was using the state's healthcare program for kids was revealing, if embarrassing for some brand-name companies. Wal-Mart, Georgia's largest employer, had about one child in the state program for every four employees, by far the highest ratio of children covered by the state. Others on the list included McDonald's and Home Depot.

When firms don't offer workers health insurance, or pay workers too little to afford the premiums, somebody else must pay. Wal-Mart has become Exhibit A: In California alone, Wal-Mart workers seek $86 million a year in state aid because of inadequate wages and benefits, according to a study by the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center. "In effect, Wal-Mart is shifting part of its labor costs onto the public," the researchers said.

Deydamia Soto is an immigrant single mom in Roslindale. Soto, 48, cleans the offices at 225 Franklin St. five nights a week for Unicco Service Co., a Newton giant with 20,000 employees and sales of $690 million. She works part time, is paid $11.20 an hour, and isn't eligible for company insurance, so she and her daughter are covered under MassHealth. Ultimately, Soto says, what matters is that she and her 8-year-old can see a doctor. Who pays her employer or the state matters less, she says.

In fact, Soto and Unicco are all too typical, in Massachusetts and elsewhere. In all, 41 percent of those who are employed and uninsured in Massachusetts work at large firms, a state study found. It is not just about small companies not insuring their workers.

Bottom line: If Soto can't pay, and her employer won't, that leaves the rest of us. And if we're going to pick up the tab, we have every right to know which employers are freeloading and just what they are costing us.

Steve Bailey is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at bailey@globe.com

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Clearly Mr. Bailey doesn't

Clearly Mr. Bailey doesn't understand what a "freeloader" is. :dunce:

On a related topic, here's

On a related topic, here's some related nonsense fresh out of California on Wal-Mart as a freeloader. :stupid:

On "Deadbeats" and

On "Deadbeats" and Dunces
The good folks at Catallarchy sniffed out this disgrace in the Boston Globe...