business news in context, analysis with attitude

We got a number of emails responding to the decision by the state of Massachusetts to force Wal-Mart to carry emergency contraception pills – better known as “morning after pills” - in its stores that have pharmacies in the state. Three women had sued the company, saying that Wal-Mart was in violation of state regulations by not carrying the medication.

MNB user David White wrote:

I read the news that Massachusetts has ordered Wal-Mart to carry the "Morning After" pill and was outraged.

I have no love in my heart at all for Wal-Mart, but I have to defend them on this one. My stance has absolutely nothing to do with whether pill is right or wrong from a moral or religious perspective. This is simply a government telling a private business what to do.

Wal-Mart, and every other private business, should never be forced into carrying a particular product or providing a service if they choose not to do so. It is THEIR business. If they choose not to carry the pill and business suffers, so be it. If they choose to sell the pill and get boycotted by some outrageous anti-pill zealots, so be it. The bottom line is that it is there business and they have the right to decide what to sell.

As for the women suing Wal-Mart - find someplace that does carry the pill, give them all your business, and stop shopping at a store that does carry the products you need or want.

Government involvement at any level in this scenario is ludicrous.

MNB user Harold Sargent wrote:

I don't think Wal-Mart or any other pharmacy should be made to stock the morning after pill or any item that they wish not to stock. The accounts that I call on do not stock all of the SKU's that I represent.

Then you need to look at were it is coming from. One of the most liberal states in the US.

Another MNB user wrote:

Ridiculous! How can the government mandate what a retailer chooses to sell. If Wal-Mart doesn't want to carry a particular product, the shopper merely has to shop somewhere else. She doesn't have a "right" to buy it wherever the hell she wants to.

The same goes for handicappers. Instead of suing to make a store "accessible," why don't they just give their business to stores that have chosen to attract their business?

Well, for one thing, there is a little law called the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that says it is illegal not to provide access to handicapped persons. A law that we happen to agree with. After all, we are supposed to be an enlightened society…not ancient Sparta, where they would leave less-than-perfect children out in the mountains to be killed since they would have diluted society’s perfection.

Also, we’re not sure how disabled folks will take to being referred to as “handicappers.”

MNB user Richard Layman disagreed with this approach:

My view of Wal-Mart not carrying a duly licensed prescription drug in 49 states is very simple. They should lose their pharmacy licenses in those 49 states. A professional license is a privilege, not a right, and said license includes the duty to prescribe all legally available drugs.

This is, at a minimum, what a citizen should expect from a business licensed by the state to conduct business in their state.

I think this is how this issue should be handled generally. If a licensed pharmacist refuses to fill a legal prescription, then they should lose their license.

This is an interesting point. Since a pharmacy is licensed by the state, should it be required to carry all legal medicines?

Continued reaction to proposals in a number of states that companies be required to spend a prescribed amount on health care for employees.

MNB user Philip Herr wrote:

While I am sympathetic to the retailers who have "played by the rules" and benefited their employees with health insurance, I cannot agree with the economics that state or local legislators cite: specifically that Medicaid is forced to pick up the difference between what Wal-Mart pays and what families need. I think what has not been entered into this equation is the cost to local governments of welfare, or other forms of assistance that may be necessary if these people were not working at all. Once the cost of other assistance is calculated I'd have to believe that Wal-Mart generates more income than it drains.

Another member of the MNB community wrote:

If all the lib (blue) states stay on this junket to get Wal-Mart to conform to their wishes, they will only hurt themselves in the long run. Think it through,... Wal-Mart owns the property they are on. Real estate will only escalate in value. If they close the doors in all the blue states, they will only be in red states. Oh and they (Wal-Mart) will still make money when they sell the land/buildings.

The rich will get richer by saving at Wally World. While the poor will be subsidized by the gov't (state if not nat'l) welfare programs, eventually costing us more money. It's not just poor folks that shop at Wal-Mart, in case nobody else has put it together, rich folks are that way for a reason. Most of them are frugal. When I was contracting, the most tight fisted customers were the ones that had the most.

I say give the big companies a better tax break for participating in a better health care program in the work place. You have to give something back, or they will close their doors and all move to red states. Wal-Mart has already demonstrated they are willing to do that rather than be pushed around.

Maybe the federal/state gov't could learn from Wal-Mart's business model and actually make some money. Lord knows we give them more than enough tax money to address all the financial needs and then some.

Another MNB user wrote:

You've already received many comments on the idea of mandating a percentage of an employer's payroll to health care, whether in Maryland or Washington. Let me only add this.

I think there is a debate to be had. But it is not about mandating employers' take up the burden of health care necessarily. It is about how we, as a country, not any one state, will address an issue that can no longer be ignored. The health care system in this country needs a serious review and fresh thinking. The Social Security problem looks like pocket change compared to the Medicare burden if we do nothing.

Do I know what to do? No. But I do know, as a baby boomer, I do not wish to leave the mess to those who come after me. If we want to have a chance to be a great generation, let us take up serious issues with serious intent to do more than grandstand and mouth platitudes about the poor and helpless or diatribes against the rich and greedy. Such approaches have led us to the gridlocked, blue-red country we live in now. The Founding Fathers would be ashamed.

And yet another MNB user wrote:

I work for a financial institution. We see many individuals with poor credit or bankruptcies because of medical bills. You can't imagine how fast your life can spiral downward when you aren't covered by adequate health insurance. The climb back up is even tougher. There is a cost to the individual, to the medical community and to everyone else when health care isn't available. This is an issue that needs attention and ultimately resolution.
KC's View: