As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

How Many More Patient Revolts?

So Wal-Mart has been going after this lady Debbie Shank for years. She is a former employee who was seriously disabled in a car accident seven years ago. A trucking company was found by a court to be at fault in the accident, and Shank received a settlement of about $400,000, and afterwards Wal-Mart demanded all of that money - plus interest - for paying Debbie's medical fees through her health care plan through the years. In other words, they wanted to make a penniless, disabled woman more penniless. The Supreme Court refused to hear Shank's injunction against Wal-Mart and it looked like she'd have to fork over the settlement money.

But after much public outcry, Wal-Mart relented. Says Wal-Mart Watch:

“We are elated that after months of public pressure and national outrage, Wal-Mart says it is finally going to do the right thing for Debbie Shank and her family.

“During the past few weeks, Jim Shank has brought to life Debbie’s tragic circumstances and vividly shown that her case is a scorching symbol of Wal-Mart’s decision to insufficiently fund its health care plan for its 1.3 million U.S. workers.

“Debbie’s case exemplifies what Wal-Mart Watch and others see every day: the world’s largest employer choosing to put less into its benefits than it should. This leaves thousands of Wal-Mart associates with choices about preventative care and necessary care that are driven by what they can afford rather than by what is in their best interest. Debbie Shank’s story is not only a personal tragedy; it poses a cautionary tale for all Wal-Mart associates.

As much as anything this shows Keith Olbermann's power - he harped on this for about a week before Wal-Mart gave in. This shows how progressive media and the public can work in tandem to stop inequities in the system and rapacious behavior from multinational corporations. But you have to wonder how much longer we're going to have these reactive patient revolts rather than overhauling this broken health care system that rewards greed and creates these gaps in the first place. Employers and insurance companies shouldn't be ABLE to lord this kind of power over sick citizens. Health care is a fundamental human right. Period.

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