KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Spike: Walmart can’t take a loss to provide affordable health care options to workers?

May 2, 2024, 5:26 PM

Image: The entrance to a Walmart store can be seen in April 2019 in Pittsburgh....

The entrance to a Walmart store can be seen in April 2019 in Pittsburgh. (File photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)

(File photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)

Recently, Walmart announced that they start closing down all 51 healthcare and telehealth facilities across multiple states. This after promising to expand these community enriching programs just a year ago.

They cite a valid business reason: not being able to operate these facilities at a profit. That’s fair. But remember, Walmart, one of the most profitable corporations on earth, owned by the wealthiest family in America. And they can’t afford to take a loss to provide affordable health care options for their customers, or their employees?

Our nation’s largest private employer, whose workforce is largely taxpayer subsidized (the vast majority of Walmart employees qualifying for both food and Medicaid assistance), isn’t willing to operate a portion of their multi-billion-dollar business at a loss to provide what is often the only health care option for their customers?

I know it’s easy for me to say how the Walton family and Walmart how to spend their money. But Walmart has no problem limiting their employees ability to earn a living wage by limiting the number of hours they’re allowed to work a week or restricting their health benefits by not making them full-time employees. Walmart has no problem earning billions and billions in profit due in part to the fact that we as tax payers subsidize their workforce.

How much is enough profit, Walmart? If billions and billions isn’t enough, what is?

Isn’t a healthy customer base good for business? Wouldn’t you think Walmart had a vested interest in making sure that their customers, not to mention their own employees, have access to affordable healthcare? What about the extra trips into Walmart people will now no longer make because they have to go somewhere else to pick up their prescriptions? If Walmart is getting rid of health services, are Kroger and Albertsons stores up next?

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I think a good business is one that invests in not just their employees, but also their community. Is it too much to ask that Walmart invests a small percentage of their billions in annual profit to keep their customers and employees healthier? What does this mean for the people who have come to count on Walmart for their health needs? Should we really be doing more to limit access to health care, all in the name of profit?

And I’m no tax expert, but I’ll bet Walmart has a building full of lawyers who can find a way to write off those losses to provide health care to their communities and employees.

Listen to Jack and Spike weekdays from noon-3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Spike: Walmart can’t take a loss to provide affordable health care options to workers?