Health Care Reform - Full Article

As you are probably aware, I wrote an Op/Ed piece that was published in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week on health care reform, one of the biggest and most emotional issues facing our country. I was asked to write an Op/Ed piece and I gave my personal opinions. While I am in favor of health care reform, Whole Foods Market as a company has no official position on the issue.

 

In answer to President Obama's invitation to all Americans to put forward constructive ideas for reforming our health care system, I wrote this Op/Ed piece called simply "Health Care Reform." An editor at the Journal rewrote the headline to call it "Whole Foods Alternative to Obamacare," which led to antagonistic feelings by many. That was not my intention - in fact, I do not mention the President at all in this piece.

 

I fully realize that there are many opinions on the healthcare debate, including inside my own company. As we, as a nation, continue to discuss this, I am hopeful that both sides can do so in a civil manner that will lead to positive change for all concerned. You are welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section below. (Just remember our comment guidelines prohibit vulgarity and personal attacks.)

 

Here is the original unedited version that I submitted.

 

Health Care Reform

 

"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money" —Margaret Thatcher.

 

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people's money. These deficits are simply not sustainable and they are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation or they will bankrupt us.

 

While we clearly need health care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and moves us much closer to a complete governmental takeover of our health care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the exact opposite direction-toward less governmental control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

 

1. Remove the legal obstacles which slow the creation of high deductible health insurance plans and Health Savings Accounts. The combination of high deductible health insurance and Health Savings Accounts is one solution that could solve many of our health care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high deductible health insurance plan, and provides up to $1,800 per year in additional health care dollars through deposits into their own Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness. Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan's costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of team member satisfaction.

 

2. Change the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have exactly the same tax benefits. Right now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible for employers but private health insurance is not. This is unfair.

 

3. Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that health insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable everywhere.

 

4. Repeal all government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance many billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual health insurance customer preferences and not through special interest lobbying.

 

5. Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors into paying insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are ultimately being passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

 

6. Make health care costs transparent so that consumers will understand what health care treatments cost. How many people know what their last doctor's visit cost? What other goods or services do we as consumers buy without knowing how much they will cost us? We need a system where people can compare and contrast costs and services.

 

7. Enact Medicare reform: we need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and move towards greater patient empowerment and responsibility.

 

8. Permit individuals to make voluntary tax deductible donations on their IRS tax forms to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP or any other government program.

 

Many promoters of health care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care-to universal and equal access to doctors, medicines, and hospitals. While all of us can empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have any more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have an intrinsic right to food, clothing, owning their own homes, a car or a personal computer? Health care is a service which we all need at some point in our lives, but just like food, clothing, and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually-beneficial market exchanges rather than through government mandates. A careful reading of both The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter, because there isn't any. This "right" has never existed in America.

 

Even in countries such as Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by governmental bureaucrats what health care treatments and medicines they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce and expensive treatments. Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million citizens. At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund on their behalf. Our Canadian and British team members express their benefit preferences very clearly-they want supplemental health care more than additional paid time off, larger donations to their retirement plans, or greater food discounts; they want health care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health care benefit dollars to spend if they already have an "intrinsic right to health care"? The answer is clear: no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K. or in any other country.

 

Rather than increase governmental spending and control, what we need to do is address the root causes of disease and poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for their own health. Unfortunately many of our health care problems are self-inflicted with over 2/3 of Americans now overweight and 1/3 obese. Most of the diseases which are both killing us and making health care so expensive-heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and obesity, which account for about 70% of all health care spending, are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal or no alcohol consumption, and other healthy lifestyle choices.

American Diet

Over the past two decades, breakthrough scientific research by Colin Campbell, as documented in his book The China Study, and clinical medical experiences by many doctors including Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, John McDougall, Joel Fuhrman, and Neal Barnard have shown that a diet consisting of whole foods which are plant-based, nutrient dense, and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most of the degenerative diseases that are killing us, and becoming more and more expensive to treat through drugs and surgery. We should be able to live healthy and largely disease free lives until we are well into our 90's and even past 100 years of age.

 

Health care reform in America is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible and that we have the freedom to choose our own doctors and the health care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our personal lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

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Comments

A. Robinson says …

<p>As a CEO you have to realize that anything you say as a person will be immediately associated with Whole Foods. You have the right to believe and say what you want, but people also have the right to disagree and show that disapproval by taking their business elsewhere. I am a fairly regular Whole Foods customer, and I as well as everyone else I know that shops there is on the liberal side. We believe that sometimes it costs more to eat, that is why we don't mind not getting the cheapest prices on items in your store. Our feelings are similar with healthcare, you need to spend more money to make everyone's health coverage better. The only way to ensure basic coverage to all people is to have some sort of government intervention (whether by new laws or by new programs). I would feel that most people recognize the benefits of paying more than the absolute lowest price for something because the return is that much greater. I eat well because of Whole Foods, the country will be equally benefitted if more money was spent in more productive ways. For profit insurance is not the solution, and never will be as national interest and business interest are diametrically opposed. You should have considered what your customers would have thought about what you said before putting your stake in the ground. You shot yourself in the foot by saying something contrary to the opinion of the majority of your customers. If you are not intelligent enough to recognize the probability of people associating your words and opinions with the company of which you are the CEO, then that does not speak highly of a company that would appoint you CEO.</p>

Cara Judge says …

<p>It took a great deal of courage to voice your opinion. I've heard socialized medicine works great, as long as you don't become ill. Health care reform is what we need. I hope the members of Congress will read the WSJ and become enlightened. Kudos to you for taking a stand.</p>

David Lingner says …

<p>Good ideas. Your company seems to be providing outstanding care for its employees, which is to be commended. </p> <p>Hope your stand does not hurt you too bad with your liberal customer base.</p> <p>BTW, I am not rich, in fact most would call me poor'¦ my children get state aid for medical. I do not have coverage, but do not favor the gov't plan. Fact is, most people who need it get care.</p> <p>The system is NOT broken. Could be improved, but not broken.</p>

Dan Aleff says …

<p>Thank you for stating this 'out loud' We need more business leaders to follow your good example. Please stay the coarse.<br> Thank you</p>

Elvisboy77 says …

<p><strong>attack</strong> You should sell Kool Aid so the Obama lovers have a reason to go to your store.</p> <p>As a business owner, I agree with you 100 percent.</p> <p>Let the Obama worshippers eat grass, I will start shopping at your store.</p>

Deb says …

<p>I consider you a hero for speaking out. I have a couple tiny quibbles with your list, but you have clearly and succinctly stated what I consider the most important areas for reform' healthy reform' of the healthcare system.</p> <p>Thank God there are still people who can look at the problem thoughtfully and are willing to express their opinions in a non-combative way and in an open forum.</p>

Charles Farley says …

<p>Thanks for sharing your opinion, John.</p> <p>Switching my company to a high-deductible plan has saved us tens of thousands of dollars per year. We privately cover the deductible expenses and it's still much, much cheaper.</p> <p>The socialists seem to be confused about what constitutes a 'right'. A 'right' is something that your fellow citizens ' acting privately or via their government agents ' cannot take from you without due process of law.</p> <p>A right is not something that you are entitled to take at someone else's expense ' especially against their will.</p> <p>We don't have a local Whole Foods, but I shop and eat there whenever I can and will continue to do so.</p>

Randy Goodman says …

<p>Dear Mr. Mackey:</p> <p>Thank you for the great WSJ Op/Ed on healthcare reform. Your proposals are right on and are the ones that should be implemented in favor of the public option. I will support Whole Foods as a brand new customer. Thank you for not being afraid to let the country know your views.</p> <p>Sincerely,<br> Randy Goodman</p>

Kay says …

<p>Thank you for your rationale and especially your boldness in expressing alternatives to a government run health care system. I am an infrequent customer but now, will shop there more often, and hope to cancel out someone that is ridiculously boycotting your store for your right to an opinion.</p>

Melinda says …

<p>BRAVO, Mr. Mackey! Thank you for your courage to stand up against our government's lunacy. You have every right to voice your opinion, after all, YOU and all of the other successful business owners will be expected to pay for this government takeover! The incredible ignorance that fights you now will ultimately realize in the end, albeit too late. You, Mr. Mackey, are a patriot! Thank you.</p> <p>Melinda</p>

Griffin Carrison says …

<p>As with most right wingers, money is everything and truth has no place in your ideology. Your misrepresentations about health care in Great Britain and Canada are proof. Survey after survey in those countries and others with national health care programs have shown great satisfaction in their health care. Far better than the US and at lower cost. Because of the greed of the insurance industry, costs in the US will continue to rise until a single payer system is adopted. Its inevitable and it is in no way socialism, its called cost control.</p> <p>Your exploitation of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence to fit your argument is another right wing ploy that proves nothing. I would remind you that neither of these documents even have the word 'corporation' in them. So according to your own set of standards, Whole Foods is unconstitutional and therefor is illegal and should be shut down. </p> <p>As far as your new found concern about budget deficits, where was your outrage when Bush decided to wage war without paying for it. Oh my bad, thats right you gazillionaires would of had to give up your tax cuts. My isn't your hypocrisy stunning? Clinton had the budget balanced and with surpluses into the future to either pay down the national debt or rescue Social Security. Then you Republicans took over and everything went down the toilet. How typical.</p> <p>Before Whole Foods built a store in Sarasota, we always shopped at locally owned stores like the Granary and Fresh Market plus the farmers market on Saturday. We will now go back to exclusively shopping those stores and never again spend one cent in Whole Foods. I understand a community boycott effort is being organized, we will certainly help and look forward to the day that your store closes down in a sea of red ink.</p>

Dan Aleff says …

<p><strong>flaming</strong> I do not understand why the people above can not see the socialism in the Obama doctrine. It is scary that so many 'FREE' Americans are willing to give up their privacy, and hard earned money to the Chicago thuggery that mistakenly and possibly dishonestly got elected</p>

Melinda says …

<p>Forgot to add that I will be going out of my way to do even more of my shopping at Whole Foods Markets!</p> <p>Melinda</p>

Brenda Oppert says …

<p>Mr. Mackey, Socialism? Really, socialism? This is the kind of inflammatory remark that fuels the insurance companies' arguments. It's irresponsible. And now, now you're concerned about the debt? Where were you for the last eight years? Your protests are hollow. Being part of a capitalist society, the way to really get your attention is by ceasing patronage of your stores.</p>

BENDER says …

<p>Thank you for your article. Wish you had a store in Canton Ohio. Socialism keeps people dumb, dependent and helpless.</p>

Louise Crews says …

<p>I do not shop at your store often because I live 15 miles from the closest Whole Food store. But I will shop there more often. Thank you for your stand.</p> <p>There are more of us out here that support your stand.<br> Do not get discourged.</p>

Karan says …

<p>Thank you, for speaking out the truth. It is a true patriot who stands up to be counted for what is right. I commend your courage in the face of intimidation from people who would silence our rights to free speach, and do not want to listen. I love shopping at your stores. I am PROUD to be an American and may God bless our country as we stand together will ALL of our people, young, old, sick or healthy.</p>

Forrest says …

<p>I never knew Whole Foods had such a big following at Fox News. Guess you're known by the company you keep.</p>

Charles Fulwood says …

<p>My family and I will no longer shop at Whole Foods.</p>

Dan Downey says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,<br> I have not shopped at Whole Foods in the past. There is one in our vicinity but Kroger has been closer. From now on, I will be making a point of going to Whole Foods to shop. If there are people who will avoid your stores because of your position, know sir, there are people who will forgo convenience to support a rational, well thought through approach and philosophy regarding health care in our nation. Kudos to you sir.<br> Regards,<br> Dan Downey<br> Atlanta, GA</p>

Jon P. says …

<p><strong>attack</strong> Keep up the good work Mr. Mackey. I have never shopped at your store simply because the first time I went to one it was filled with filthy shuffling Neanderthals. I couldn't take it. I unloaded my cart and left.</p> <p> Hopefully your article will entice 'working' folks to think about shopping at your store. </p> <p>After reading the many responses I have come to the realization that the writers who are opposed to your position are at best childish and narrow minded. It is becoming very clear that the 'left' no longer control the debate on health care, and they are whining about it. Many cannot even stay on topic when trying to explain their reasoning. </p> <p>Again, thanks for adding your opinion to the debate.</p>

Bill says …

<p>Thank you John for standing up for capitalism. Everyone in the world wants to come here. And you work for a dollar a year, thanks again.</p>

Rosemary Lichtman says …

<p>I found your WSJ op-ed piece to be refreshing in the midst of all the wild rhetoric flying around today. It was well-reasoned and informative. I am appalled that some people are suggesting that others boycott your store. I applaud you for giving some serious thought to ' and expressing some good ideas about ' solving the health care problems that plague us. Thank you. I plan to do more shopping at my local Whole Foods store.<br> Rosemary</p>

Heather B says …

<p>I am just writing to THANK the CEO of Whole Foods for his op-ed about healthcare reform! Thanks for being honest and speaking openly about your opinion'free speech is a core value and human right in the US, and I am happy to see someone exercising free speech. I heard some supporters of the current healthcare reform threatening to boycott Whole Foods; I just want to say that we opponents of the current bill in Congress outnumber the supporters of the bill. In fact this op-ed makes me MORE likely to shop at your store. Although I must admit that I am already a customer and have been for a few years now because of the products that you offer, and my belief in consuming organic products. That said I will now shop at Whole Foods more often than before.</p>

Patricia Stone says …

<p>Mr. Mackey, Thank you so much for having the courage to speak your opinion, and then for not backing down from that opinion when people threatened a boycott. The great thing about this country is that we can speak our minds, regardless of which side of the debate we are on. The ones who threaten to boycott and complain the loudest try to intimidate those who don't agree with them, and they are the ones who think they are entitled. Thank you so much for your statements and ideas. There are many of us with conservative views that shop at Whole Foods, and will certainly be proud to continue! Thank you for standing up for what you believe instead of just catering to your 'loudest' customers. Patricia Stone, Texas</p>

dr. jack block says …

<p>dear mr mackey, As a longtimecustomer of wholefoods, I<br> differ on several issues:</p> <p>1 The Declaration of Independence does grant a right of pursuit of happiness, which means that oneshould have the right to medical care in order to be happy.</p> <p>2- The Constitution does permit freedoms which are granted in the ninth and tenth ammendments, namely, rights that have not been enumerated, but are understood. Such as the right to work, the right to shelter, the right to adequate food, and fourth, the right to health care.</p> <p>3- Regarding a national medicare system for all people, I believe that all people are entitled to government paid medical care. My reason for saying this is that the working class has the right to keep itself healthy, and cannot do so if business has closed and workers have been fired or laid off. Only government protection can solve this problem.</p> <p>4- Regarding your statement that government medical cost will be in the trillions of dollars, our government spends lavishly on unjustified wars in trillions of dollars.</p> <p>5- Regarding the income tax, the middle class is overwhelmed and burdened by high and regressive taxes which go as high as 32% of income. However, millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate of income tax as do middle class husband and wife who earn up to three or four hundred thousand dollars. If one takes a third of that income away, it can seriously reduce their standard of living. However, in the case of extremely wealthy people, example, Mike Bloomberg, with gross income of 46 billion dollars, is taxed at the same rate as the high end middle class. This means that if government taxes reduce this income by 1/3 it leaves approximately 30 billion dollars untaxed. That is not regressive.</p> <p>6- Regarding waiting lines in socialized medical treatment, these countries do provide medical care at government expense. In our country we have substandard health care and reduced health care depending upon the income available to buy personal or group health plans.</p> <p>I still intend to support the Whole Foods store in Ridgewood, New Jersey. I have shopped in the store since it opened in 2001. Management an staff are wonderful people. and I do hope that you will acknowledge their helpfulness, and I wish the best for you.</p>

Roger says …

<p>I liked to shop at wholefoods, but I won't anymore. Maybe you should check in with your local health clinic, and do some volunteer work; work with the poor (some of whom have full time jobs). It might change your opinion a little bit. </p> <p>-Roger</p>

J Carter says …

<p>Thank you for your position, practice and courage. Your policy within your company and your recommendations for health care reform are well thought out and foundationally true.<br> We have been Whole Foods shoppers but will shop more than before and will advertise 'you' and Whole Foods wherever possible.<br> Thank you.</p>

Bethc says …

<p><strong>attack</strong> I will never buy a thing at your store again! You are a total jerk!!</p>

Christine Cloak says …

<p>We should not have to thank you for expressing your opinion, however since that has become risky lately, I will say it. Thank you for expressing a well thought out opinion and one backed by information, not emotion. I think I will shop at Whole Foods more often now.</p>

TJ Malham says …

<p>Mr. Mackey, thank you for speaking your mind and providing some great insight into a matter in which too many Americans are currently blind. </p> <p>Shame on those calling for his removal, I would be appalled if any such act of censorship would come to fruition.</p> <p>Mr. Mackey's article personally reinforces my decision to shop at Whole Foods. It was without emotion, based on logic and reasoning, and made a valid contribution to the health debate. </p> <p>If only more business leaders had the courage to share their experiences we would be able to have a more truthful debate. Thank you Mr. Mackey!</p>

Michaelc says …

<p>Socialized healthcare can't possibly work'¦ except for in every other industrialized country where according to the statistics they seem to be living longer and paying less to do so, and most of them are getting free college and 5 weeks of vacation a year to boot. </p> <p>The job of government is not to create the best possible environment for businesses, it is to create the best possible environment for the greatest number of its citizens (not just the richest ones). This is something that most of Europe seems to have figured out a long time ago, but somehow universal healthcare in this country is a lower priority that making sure that the insurance companies keep their stock prices up.</p>

Gabrielle says …

<p>I think you make some excellent points here, John, especially the transparency of healthcare costs. I appreciate you speaking your mind and will continue to shop Whole Foods ' love that I can buy vegan products, organic produce and non-GMO soy there!</p>

MissTammy says …

<p>Thank you , sir, for the best ideas I have yet heard in this debate. I look forward to becoming a regular shopper at your store.</p>

Patricia Stone says …

<p>P.S. I noticed one person 'demanded' an immediate apology. PLEASE don't apologize for speaking out. I definitely agree w/what you said, but even if I disagreed, I would admire your integrity and wouldn't be so petty as to quit shopping Whole Foods. Those who boycott are the ones who lose in this case! Thanks again for speaking your mind!</p>

LG Smith says …

<p>Mr. Mackey, kudos to you! You have nothing to apologize for and I hope you don't cave in to those individuals that are crying out for a 'boycott' against your stores. Although I haven't shopped at one of your stores, I will make it a point to do so now and will encourage all of my friends as well to do the same.</p>

Patti Martin says …

<p>Bravo Mr. Mackey! I am a registered nurse and fully realize the problems with our health care system ' as you stated so very well. Litigation is totally out of control in this country. I know, from working in an emergency department for 17 years, that many, many unnecessary tests are done due to fears of a lawsuit. HSAs are a wonderful way for employees to be personally accountable for their health care costs. Thank you so much for voicing your opinion. It is greatly appreciated. I will definitely shop at a Whole Foods when I am near one. Currently the closest is 2 hours away. Thank you again. Patti and Donnie Martin</p>

JD says …

<p><strong>attack</strong> Dear Mr, John Mackey,</p> <p>Finally ! a voice of common sense.</p> <p>You don't have a store near me so I'll shop your online store, and first thing Monday morning I'll be buying WFMI stock to show I appreciate your honest point of view.</p> <p>Thank you for standing up for what you, and millions of other 'Logical' Americans know is a giant leap to socialism with the take over of 1/6th of our economy by a bunch of egotistical baffoons that could, and will destroy our American way of life.</p> <p>The ultra leftist wacko nut jobs are acting in a predictable manner, as always. Next they'll have<br> San Francisco black panthers stopping customers with night clubs at your stores entrance, along with DNC PAID Acorn idiots clammering some bizzarre form of made up racism, which is par for the course for these paid hitmen</p>

Malcoclm Gin says …

<p>Here's the part of your both edited and unedited essay that I strongly object to:</p> <blockquote><p>Many promoters of health care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care-to universal and equal access to doctors, medicines, and hospitals. While all of us can empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have any more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have an intrinsic right to food, clothing, owning their own homes, a car or a personal computer?</p></blockquote> <p>Please reconsider. This assertion is counter to the ideas that most of the greatest humanitarian organizations (like Doctors Without Borders, the United Nations, Amnesty International, etc.) have about appropriate access to health care. After food, air, water and shelter, health care comes next. </p> <p>In saying otherwise, I think you do yourself injustice, as you do your employees injustice and your customers injustice. It's because of these words, your publicly expressed opinion, that my household is boycotting your store.</p> <p>Boycott is really the only way I can make my feelings about your opinion known. Honestly, if your policy on unions were not already bad, I probably would reconsider boycotting your store, but as it is, I'll take that $500 or so a month I've spent at your store and take it to a competitor who doesn't have such strongly and publicly non-humanitarian CEO running it.</p> <p>Regards, and I wish you luck and good fortune with your journey through life.</p>

Stephanie Greenlaw says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>I have to respectfully disagree with you, though I do admit that your arguments are well reasoned and lacking the bile I find elsewhere in this debate. </p> <p>You write about how people should eat healthier to avoid health issues'what about the thousands of Americans who cannot afford to buy 'healthy' food, such as that at your stores, because it is high-priced or geographically far away? </p> <p>You also say that the government should deregulate the insurance industry by allowing companies to compete more freely and to get rid of mandatory coverage of certain things. Currently, many Americans cannot get coverage because they have preexisting health conditions. I believe deregulating the industry more would only increase this problem.</p> <p>This leads me to my primary issue with this piece' your assertion that healthcare is not a 'right'. While healthcare is not listed in the Constitution as a right, most Americans believe the government does have a responsibility to protect the well-being of the American people, as part of the contract that the Constitution forms. This means that it's widely recognized that not only are all Americans 'equal,' as the Declaration of Independence states, but that they are giving the natural right to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'. For most people, having access to food, healthcare, and other essentials is a matter of life and death. I doubt you would object to the government assisting impoverished individuals with paying for food'so what is the difference with healthcare? Just because the urgency of starving to death isn't there doesn't mean that healthcare isn't a necessity.</p> <p>This is why I support and will support any change to the status quo in American healthcare, whether it be the current Congressional proposal, real socialized medicine, or a single-payer system (my personal favorite) that will help the millions of uninsured or underinsured Americans get the help they need. </p> <p>I will admit that I have not ever shopped at Whole Foods (as a student, it's out of my price range). But I can assure you that I now have no plans to shop there, now or in the future. While I understand you were not intending to speak on behalf of Whole Foods, as a member of the capitalistic system, you have to understand that, when you do state your opinion while the CEO of a company, consumers will often respond. </p> <p>Respectfully,<br> S. Greenlaw</p>

Dan Downey says …

<p><strong>off topic? flaming</strong> To Mr. Carrison and Ms. Oppert,<br> I would like to point out to both of you a few facts you may want to consider: 1. the top 10% of earners in this country already pay 71+% of the taxes. The bottom 50% pay nothing. Yes, nothing. 2. Clinton did not balance the budget. After the failure of Hillarycare, Republicans took over both the House and Senate for the last 6 years of the Clinton Admin. THEY balanced the budget. 3. It is indeed socialism when you take from the people who earn and give it to those who don't'¦the very basic tenet of socialism is 'from each according to ability, to each according to need'. A recipe for mediocrity. 4. You both lament the Bush deficits, ignoring that Obama has QUADRUPLED what Bush did in 8 years in a mere 8 months. 5. History has shown repeatedly that when you REDUCE tax rates, government revenues INCREASE. Please look it up. 6. Finally, Mr. Carrison you are in error regarding the satisfaction and performance of health care in Britain and Canada. Satisfaction is only expressed when citizens aren't sick. Satisfaction disappears when medical attention is actually needed. Also, please spend a few moments researching the outcomes for serious disease in those countries vs the US. For things like cancer, MS, AIDS, etc. life expectancies and outcomes in the US FAR exceed those in Britain and Canada'¦in large part to waits and denial of treatment in countries with rationed single payer systems. For example, the single most effective chemotherapy drug for breast cancer isn't available in Britain'¦too expensive. Please do some research, get the facts, and think about them.</p> <p>Dan Downey<br> Atlanta, GA</p>

JeffreyB says …

<p>There is a Whole Foods in my business's neighborhood in Portland. I have patronized that store since it's opening on a nearly daily basis. I appreciate what the store has to offer and when I travel, I always find out where the nearest Whole Foods is located. I have patronized multiple WFM in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami just within this past year. </p> <p>I'm sorry to say that as of yesterday, my faithful patronage will cease completely. I cannot support a this backward type attitude. It is the same soup in a different bowl that has stifled our nation for far too long. The day Mr. Mackey is no longer associated with WFM is the day I will reconsider my patronage. </p> <p>I am so very happy that we have New Seasons for me to rely upon. I will encourage them to open a store in the Pearl District here in Portland.</p>

Ingrid Hansen says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,<br> Thank you for your article'¦ it is so logical and rational.<br> You better not get fired.<br> God bless you!</p>

JCB says …

<p>Dear John,</p> <p>This morning I spoke with a number of your Canadian store managers and they have indicated to me that a considerable number of Canadian WF employees are concerned that you have not accurately described or given a fair assessment of the Canadian Universal Single Payer Health Care Plan, which all but one or two per cent of Canadians think is a good system, and which has no co-pays and no deductibles. Many of these Canadian WF employees have now written to you and to WF and I hope that you will share all of their comments with the American public so that the misrepresentations which you and many others in the U.S. have made about the Canadian system can be corrected. </p> <p>You state that health care is not an intrinsic right in Canada, yet every Canadian has the availability of Universal Single Payer Health Care, regardless of their economic status, age, or pre-existing conditions. The overwhelming majority of Canadians would assert that they have a right to good health care and receive it under their system. </p> <p>Contrary to what you suggest and what many opponents of true health care reform suggest, physicians in Canada do not have to ask permission of government bureaucrats as to whether they can perform one procedure or another, unlike in the U.S. where they are frequently mandated to seek permission from a private insurance company bureaucrat before they can treat their patients.</p> <p>The long waiting lists which you describe includes all those people who have made doctor's appointments for the near future, who are not being delayed, and do not reflect as serious a backlog problem as you suggest. It is true that it can be hard to find a GP in Canada who does not have a full client load and walk in clinics have been established to offset this situation which arises because people in Canada can go to their GP any time they feel ill, which results in excellent Primary Care and eliminates costly and disastrous conditions which arise if people did not have Universal Health Care and delay going to the doctor or do not go at all because they could not afford to pay the deductible or co- pay or can not get insurance at all, which is so common in the U.S. This kind of good Primary Care would save the U.S. billions of dollars a year in addition to improving the quality of peoples' lives.</p> <p>People in Canada and in the rest of the modern industrialized world look with pity on people in the U.S. because we do not have the good health care systems that they do. In the U.S. the bankruptcy rate because of medical situations has now reached sixty per cent or better, yet citizens in the rest of the modern world do not have to suffer these kinds of economic disasters in conjunction with medical ones.</p> <p>The essence of this debate is whether health care is a human right or a privilege and the U.S. is the only country in the modern industrialized world which does not yet view health care as a basic human right. With more than 50 per cent of the physicians in this country and more than 50 per cent of our citizens favoring a government based health care alternative, perhaps we will soon see real change.</p> <p>All of the suggestions which you outline in your points would be moot if a single payer universal health care system were to be established. This is the most economically, socially, and morally responsible thing to do. Rather than increasing our national cost of health care, a single payer plan would provide the greatest cost efficiencies in delivering health care to all U.S. citizens without restricting the freedom to the doctor of your choice.</p> <p>Though I an a native Texan, I have lived in Canada and have had first hand experience with the Canadian Universal Single Payer Health Care System and like most people who have experienced it, I find little resemblance between the reality of its good service provided in the plan and the disastrous picture which you paint of it.</p> <p>Almost six years ago, one of my daughters who lives in Victoria, B.C. Canada gave birth to her second son, and he was born with a club foot. Being a good mother, she researched the various treatment options and information from around the world. She found that the conventional treatment of surgery in a hospital to cut the achilles tendon, then re-position the foot followed by putting it in a cast for several months, and then physical therapy was only 70 to 80 per cent successful and usually resulted in ankle problems once the child reached their twenties or thirties. She found another method, devised by an old doctor in Ohio who had been brought out of retirement so he could teach other doctors his non-surgical and highly successful treatment method, which involved multiple manipulations of the foot, multiple castings, and physical therapy and required more of the doctors real time than the one surgery in a hospital. She found an Orthopedic Surgeon in her own home town who had been trained in this method. There was no waiting or delay for my grandson to be treated, the doctor did not have to call a government bureaucrat to ask permission for the less conventional method which my daughter had free choice of, and of course there were no co-pays, deductibles , or expenses other than the regular health insurance premium payments, which are adjusted according to income. My almost six year old grandson is a very active, rambunctious child and one would never guess that he had been born with a club foot. There are a far more overwhelming number of stories like this about the Canadian system than there are instances of failures or problems.</p> <p>It is time for people in the U.S. to realize that continuing to patch up the antiquated tractor of our health care and insurance is not economically sound, nor can it deliver services in an efficient and modern way. It is time for us to realize that we meed a modern health care tractor, just like all the other modern industrialized countries of the world have had since the last century. </p> <p>with my best regards,</p> <p>JCB</p>

Becky says …

<p>Thank you for expressing your thoughts. As the wife of a physician I agree with you whole heartedly. Anyone who is willing to boycott your stores because you voiced your personal opinions is a closed minded pinhead. Whole Foods sounds like a wonderful place to work and I will now go out of my way to shop at one of your store, the closest is 45 miles away.<br> Thank you again.</p>

Nancy says …

<p>I agree with everything that John Mackey wrote and I thank him for having the courage to write it in today's political climate. Even though the closest Whole Foods store is out of my way, I will make a point to shop there.</p>

Kate says …

<p>Despite your protestations, your hollow intentions and empty words speak for themselves.<br> I will never, ever patronize Whole Foods again- and I will encourage others to do the same. You are free to have your opinions, but your store will never see another cent of my money.</p>

Karen says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>My husband and I are shareholders and regular shoppers of your Tustin store since the days of Mrs. Gooches. We spend $250.00/week in your store. We are selling our shares and will no longer shop in your stores. We are in S. Calif. so we have many options. And we choose to shop at a store that does not show blatant disrespect for its shoppers and its employees. By mouthing off about something you know nothing about (government-run healthcare for all just like members of Congress and their families get) you show obvious arrogance. But not only that, by inciting this boycott, you take the money out of the pockets of your wonderful employees and their families. What a stupid move. You just had to express your ignorant opinion no matter the cost. Well, now you're paying the price. Everyone I know is boycotting your store because of your hubris. Great job.</p> <p>Karen</p>

Claudia McCulloch, Ph.D. says …

<p>Dear Mr. Mackey:<br> Excellent article. Thoughtful, meaningful, reasonable and responsible. Thank you for the courage to speak the truth. Apparently, it's not 'p.c.' to speak the truth. As for my family, we shop at Whole Foods and Henrys and will continue to do so with gusto. Those of us who do not have the broad forum you enjoy are grateful to you. </p> <p>Claudia</p>

Ellen Fredel says …

<p>As a Whole Foods shareholder and customer, I am disappointed that you did not ask the Wall Street Journal to include the disclaimer that you posted on this blog (the op-ed is your personal opinion and not the opinion of Whole Foods). Actually, I understand that you had the op-ed 'ghost written,' so I am not sure it reflects your personal opinion at all. Why not publish the op-ed without stating that you are the CEO of Whole Foods?</p> <p>I disagree with several of your suggestions. First, selling insurance across state lines will gut state regulation of the health insurance industry. There will be a race to the bottom, in the same way that credit card companies chose states that permitted interest rates on their credit cards to sky rocket. Similarly, this would eliminate HMOs that rely upon geographic limits to their coverage (unless you are suggesting that people simply return to the HMO jursidiction whenever they need surgery).<br> Second, mandates are necessary to prevent insurance company practices that required women who had just given birth to leave the hospital almost immediately (so-called 'drive-by deliveries') and to protect women with breast cancer who need reconstructive surgery. I wonder how many women shop at Whole Foods? Finally, it is simply unrealistic to ask an individual facing a life-threatening cancer or a need for emergency surgery to comparison shop for the lowest cost. You may be able to go to any hospital in any city for medical treatment, but many people cannot afford to do so. They would rather be close to family and friends and to the physicians that have treated them for years.</p>

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