N.J. to Publicize Firms with High Number of Uninsured Employees

By | August 23, 2006

New Jerseyans will get to know which businesses in their state have many employees receiving publicly funded health care.

Following a report that found major companies such as Wal-Mart have hundreds of state workers getting taxpayer-funded medical treatment, Gov. Jon S. Corzine this week signed into law a bill requiring the state to release an annual report on companies that have at least 50 employees enrolled in the state’s FamilyCare or Medicaid programs.

According to New Jersey Policy Perspective, 51 of the state’s largest employers have 100 or more employees or dependents enrolled in NJ FamilyCare.

Wal-Mart, with 589 workers and dependents receiving taxpayer-funded insurance, topped the list. Wal-Mart has 50 stores in New Jersey, employing 13,234 workers. A company spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

FamilyCare is the state program for low-income families who lack employer insurance and cannot afford private health insurance. The state spends about $1 billion per year on FamilyCare and for payments to hospitals for treating the uninsured.

The state spends about $9 billion each year on Medicaid, a combined federal and state program designed to help senior citizens, children and the poor.

The annual state report is to include the employer’s name, the number of its FamilyCare enrollees and Medicaid recipients, the number of its employee spouses and dependents, whether the company provides health insurance and the cost to the state for providing health care to the employer’s workers and families.

Names of FamilyCare and Medicaid enrollees won’t be included in the report.

Bill sponsor Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, has said the law will let the public know which companies are “putting more pressure on an already strained system” and making it tougher for the state to provide basic health care.

The New Jersey Business & Industry Association opposed the bill as “nothing more than an effort to harass businesses at a time when most are already struggling to keep up with skyrocketing health insurance costs.”

The reports will be due by Sept. 1 each year.

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