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Published:January 25th, 2008 12:09 EST
Discredited Chambers Health Care Memo Embraced by Wal-Mart

Discredited Chambers Health Care Memo Embraced by Wal-Mart

By SOP newswire

Washington, D.C. --  Linda Dillman, executive vice president of benefits and risk management for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., expressed dismay that more workers did not accept Wal-Mart's weakest health care offerings, which would have further boosted Wal-Mart's enrollment numbers. She also refused to release the amount Wal-Mart spends on health care per employee or the percentages of employees using different plans, all critical information for determining whether or not Wal-Mart employees are actually enrolled in quality plans or cheap plans that will bankrupt them should they ever need to use them.  

Providing health care plans with very low premiums and very limited coverage was one of the core strategies of the infamous Chambers memo, leaked by Wal-Mart Watch to the New York Times in 2005.  It exposed Wal-Mart's strategy to provide less expensive offerings to its employees that shifted more of the costs to the employees themselves.  At the same time, it would reframe the public's perception of its health care offerings as employee participation rose.  

At the time of its release, Wal-Mart Watch speculated that Wal-Mart employees would not be duped.  In fact, two and a half years later, Wal-Mart is still unable to persuade just an additional three percent of its workforce to sign up for the plan and has not reduced the number of employees using Medicaid and other state-funded health care programs.

To be even more dishonest, Wal-Mart tried to claim credit for the number of employees insured by other plans, including state plans - another key public relations strategy of the Chambers memo.  In addition, the percentages of employees who are uninsured, covered by Medicaid and other coverage options provided by Wal-Mart are based merely on survey data from eligible employees rather than actual data, so it is uncertain whether the percentages accurately reflect the insured status of the company's employees.  

Despite Wal-Mart's attempts to quell its public relations disaster by discrediting the Chambers memo, yesterday's conference call and press release reinforced CEO Lee Scott's embrace of its implementation.  Wal-Mart's unwillingness to provide additional information once again shows it cannot be trusted to do the right thing for its employees.  No amount of Wal-Mart spin will change the facts.

Source:, a campaign of Five Stones and The Center for Community and Corporate Ethics