MR. WALTON GOES TO WASHINGTON: S. Robson Walton, chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, went to Capitol Hill last Thursday to discuss his views on health-care proposals in private meetings with lawmakers.

Among those he visited was Sen. David Boren (D., Okla.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, who will be instrumental in drafting the ultimate reform package. Boren told WWD they discussed President Clinton’s proposal that would require employers to pay 80 percent of health-care costs for all workers, as well as proposals for statewide alliances to provide health-care benefits — ideas Boren and Walton both oppose.

In describing his approximately 30-minute meeting with Walton, Boren said they agreed about giving employers flexibility in providing health-care coverage to their workers.

“His concern was that benefit packages would be devised that are more expensive than employers can afford,” Boren said. “He also was concerned that alliances would be too powerful and there would be no flexibility for individual companies. I share all those views.”

Walton could not be reached for comment.

L’CHAIM, ARTHUR: Arthur Martinez, chairman and chief executive officer of Sears Merchandise Group, will be awarded the 1994 National Jewish Huminatarian Award at the Retail Industries Dinner Dance in New York in June. Proceeds from the dinner will go toward establishing a fund in Martinez’s name for childhood asthma at the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine.

VENTURE NAMES CALDWELL: Venture Stores has tapped Gene Caldwell as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Caldwell, who has been controller, joined the company in 1985. He succeeds Jack Burtelow, who resigned. The post of controller is not expected to be filled.

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