Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln sits on the Senate Finance Committee. She represents the state of Arkansas. Wal-Mart is headquartered in Arkansas and is the largest private employer in the state.
A month ago Wal-Mart angered many other large businesses by coming out in support of an employer mandate. Wal-Mart's support for the employer mandate was a needed boost to Obama's effort to reform health care.
What Wal-Mart is strongly against is the idea of a “free rider” provision. A “free rider” provision would make businesses not providing their employees with health insurance benefits pay a fine if their employees are getting health insurance from the government. They would be responsible for paying part of the cost of an employee's subsides on the exchange and half the cost of employees on Medicaid. The “free rider” provision would be very bad for a company like Wal-Mart, which employs a lot of low income workers and many individuals with disabilities.
Baucus's possible “compromise” health care legislation is expect to include the “free rider” provision which Wal-Mart strongly opposes. As long as Baucus' proposal includes the “free rider” provision demanded by the Republicans, he should have a tough time gaining Senator Lincoln's support. It is not just possible defection from the liberals on the Senate Finance Committee that Baucus should be worried about.