I figured public pressure would mount this week to make Wal-Mart reverse itself. Then today on CNN:
Further research led to this Wall Street Journal article. The following is today's correspondence with Wal-Mart:
Via the customer comment form found on the corporate website (which limits a comment to 500 characters) -
Low prices are not worth it. I cannot and will not support a multibillion dollar enterprise that sues someone for all their assets beyond their last penny, disabled OR healthy. I'm sorry that it won't cost you enough to make a difference but the next time I cross your threshold will be when I hear that the WalMart or Walton Foundation has granted the Shanks family $1 million dollars and a public apology. News quote:"We wish our plan was more flexible." It's YOUR plan. Make it more flexible.
Wal-Mart's response (commendably only two hours later) -
When our associates, or their family members, suffer injuries or medical conditions which are the responsibility of others, our plan steps in to pay covered medical expenses so the associate and their families don't have to worry about their bills or have large out-of-pocket expenses. It is only after the associate or their family member receives a monetary payment from the responsible party, that our health plan becomes entitled to reimbursement.
While the Shanks case involves a tragic situation, our responsibility is to follow the provisions of the plan which governs the health benefits of our associates. These plans are funded by associate premiums and company contributions. Any money recovered is returned to the health plan, not to the business. This is done out of fairness to everyone who contributes and benefits from the plan. The Supreme Court's denial of the Shank appeal concludes all litigation. The Court ruled that the benefit plan was entitled to the funds in the trust account, which was about $280,000, which is all it requested.
Wal-Mart Customer Relations
Since your response is signed "Wal-Mart Customer Relations", you will forgive me that I do not have the opportunity to presume to address you by your first name in a business correspondence.
The fact that the plan is "entitled to reimbursement" does not change the fact that a previously loyal customer is equally entitled to make the choice to no longer support your business.
Subrogation exists in order to assure that expenses are not paid for twice. It is slick slight of hand to claim that a settlement needed to pay for long-term costs otherwise shifted onto the back of the public through Medicaid are a "second payment" of expenses paid by the insurer.
To exercise a right and to be in the right are two different things.
As Wal-Mart has chosen to exercise a right, I, too, will exercise my right to not support that choice and to direct others to information which will empower them to choose how they might respond to your corporation's choice.
As I exercise my right of choice, I will sleep comfortably assured that exercising this right is to be also in the right.
Rev. Charles B. Roberts
To the associate who reads this email:
It is not to you personally that I express my displeasure but to those above you who hold the power to do to you exactly what they are doing to Mrs. Shank. My prayers are with you and your fellow associates. Those who claim to be protecting you may someday come knocking on your door to take the food from your child's mouth or force you to choose to divorce your spouse so that Medicaid will pay more for your long-term care.
I'll update you if more transpires.