COLUMBUS — Attention shoppers: Ohio taxpayers are picking up the tab for the more than 15,000 Walmart associates who qualify for Medicaid.
Likewise for the nearly 12,000 McDonald’s employees who are on food stamps. Or the 5,507 food stamp recipients at Wendy’s and the 4,197 at Kroger.
A report released Tuesday, Sept. 29, by the state Department of Job and Family Services shows that workers employed by corporate giants including Walmart, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Kroger get their health care and sometimes the food on their tables through taxpayer-funded programs for the poor.
“The state of Ohio can’t afford to cover the costs of corporate irresponsibility,” said state Rep. Dan Stewart, D-Columbus, at a press conference held by the United Commercial Food Workers union.
Walmart spokesman Greg Rossiter said the average wage among Walmart’s 53,287 Ohio workers is $11.49 an hour and both part-time and full-time employees are offered affordable health care coverage. But, he noted, the company cannot force workers to take the coverage.
The state report noted that some Ohioans are eligible for employer health care, but they choose Medicaid instead because it may be more comprehensive coverage or cost less to them.
In June 2009, the state spent about $28.5 million on Medicaid, $14 million on food stamps, and $10.9 million on welfare for employees of the 50 largest employers.
Ohio Medicaid, a state and federally funded health care insurance program for the poor, blind, aged and disabled, covers 2 million Ohioans and costs $13 billion a year.
The union got the state data through a public records request filed in May.
A Democrat in the House and a Republican in the Senate are crafting a bill that would require the state to post the information in a searchable, online database. Stewart said it’s important Ohioans “know who we are picking up the tab for.”
Contact this reporter at (614)224-1624 or lbischoff@DaytonDailyNews.com.
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