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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4666 comments

Comments

Allen Wood says …

<p>Mr. Mackey, I have tried to post a message opposing your stand on health-care reform but you apparently will not accept any more posts expressing my viewpoint, no matter how moderately worded. This is very disappointing.</p>

Alex Batson says …

<p>The words ignorant and pathetic are appropriate for Mr. Mackey's article. I must comment before i withdraw my support to whole foods, saving a public retraction by Mr.Mackey. I migrated from a poor 3rd world country in South America (Guyana). The average salary is $150.00 US per month. People have to save for months to buy a new shoe. Yet still that poor country provides health care for all its citizens. There are also private options if people so choose. This system works very well, no rationing or denial of care. You and all those fear mongers need to get educated and learn to love your fellow citizens and give people a choice.<br> I will ask my friends on Facebook, Hi5 and Myspace to boycott Whole Foods if this is where the company stands with regards to Health Care Reform.</p>

Hal Nees says …

<p>Mr. Mackey:</p> <p>You have made your choice concerning health care reform and you have chosen to bring Whole Foods as a company into the discussion. As a result of your choices we will not be purchasing any further food at Whole Foods. Our choice is based on a belief that we need health care reform, that any business that chooses to take a stand in politics has brought politics to the company. </p> <p>I hope that you understand what you have done and that many people make the choice to stop purchasing from Whole Foods.</p> <p>Hal Nees</p>

margie says …

<p>I support your opinion, but as CEO of a company that strongly states it support for communities, you are reckless. I agree with a previous comment'¦The Whole Foods Board of Directors needs to fire you and move on.<br> In addition, your follow-up comments used typical lame tactics. </p> <p>Typical tactic #1'¦BLAME SOMEONE ELSE, in this case the WSJ. Even this lame excuse does not change the ignorance of your bitter comments. </p> <p>Typical tactic #2'¦Ask for CIVILILITY, sounds like another anti-healthcare person who throws red meat to the masses than let others fight.</p> <p>Your reckless comments about not supporting healthcare is harmful to all Americans, even people with insurance who are held hostage by yearly price hikes, more co-pays and rationing of services. People in this country should not be going to Mexico or health fairs to get health services. I will actively shop at other places that support communities such as my local co-op, Trader Joe's, Meijer's, Busch's, Krogers etc.<br> Most importantly I urge everyone to shop at Walmart which I am surprise to say is a supporter of health<br> care reform.</p> <p>You sir, don't deserve to call yourself CEO of Whole Foods. I hope the WF Board of Directors, have more concern for the people and communities than you. Please Board of Directors, walk the talk of your company and fire this reckless person.</p>

Marion Willilams says …

<p>Mr. Mackey, I have spent untold gold shopping at the store and have encouraged others to do so. I am disappointed by your views on health care reform but I'm glad that they are made public now. I had wrongly assumed that Whole Foods Market's progressive quality went beyond its products. I am a healer practitioner and I am well aware of the importance of good nutrition for physical well-being. However, Whole Food Market is not the only (or most cost-effective) supplier of sound food. I have joined the boycott of Whole Foods Market.</p>

Jason says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>I just want to say Thank You!<br> We shop at your store twice a week for all, and I mean all of our groceries and it is rarely under $250 each trip because there are 5 of us. We are not in favor of government run anything and to hear you say this will help us sleep better knowing the money is not going to support a bunch of 'useful idiots'.</p> <p>I have Crohn's disease and your store provides everything I need to keep it in remission (I do not take any pharmaceutical drugs). I consider our food and supplement bill as our health insurance.</p>

Ralph Barnes says …

<p>As dedicated Whole Foods customers for many years, we would like to personally thank John Mackey for his courage in standing up as an American citizen to say what he feels about a subject that's going to affect all of us for years to come. My wife and I have spent many thousands of dollars with Whole Foods through the years, and when we see someone whose supposed to go along with the hackneyed cliches and politically correct program actually have the courage to speak his mind, we're impressed and relieved. Thank you, John Mackey. My wife and I hope to see you at Whole Foods Buckhead, soon, and shake your hand.<br> Ralph Barnes<br> Atlanta, Ga.</p>

Jessica says …

<p>Wow'¦.you're unbelievable. You've just lost me as a customer and my entire my family. I'll be going to Sprouts here in Dallas now. </p> <p>Do you even know who your loyal customers really are???? Obviously not.</p>

pjean says …

<p>Only in America would a people politicize a supermarket. Did our parents and grandparents do this kind of stuff. It's shameful that some people are so nasty, but as the saying goes, 'When one door closes, another opens'.</p>

Gordon says …

<p>I will miss shopping at Whole Foods, but I will not watch my hard earned money be used to support this sort of far right-wing crap. At least your customers (or former customers) finally can see what kind of person is behind this company.</p>

Celeste A. Kostyniuk says …

<p>Thank you, Mr. Mackey, for speaking out against Obama's health care takeover. Don't worry about the people who are threatening boycotts ' there are tons of us who agree with you and will continue shopping at Whole Foods (by the way, your Vegan Chocolate Mousse is out of this world!). Keep up the good work and thanks again for speaking out in a big way.</p>

sandra robles says …

<p>You, sir, have gained a new customer. I have never really shopped at whole foods but will now make an effort to increase my traffic. Thank you for having the courage to stand up and say NO to the thugs in Washington. You have set a fine example for all Americans afraid to stand up and speak. Thank you. God bless.</p>

Eric says …

<p>I find that your article is short sighted when you encourage deregulation of the industry. When my wife was employed full time and received a very nice health care plan, we felt forced to continue paying for her individual policy that she had had since college. Since she had a pre-existing condition (Lupus) we were certain that if she left her new job she would not receive coverage again. While I agree with some of your points (tort reform in particular), I feel like we need to remove most of the profit motive from the insurance system since it has clearly been abused for so long.</p>

Allen Cummings says …

<p>Dear CEO Mackey:</p> <p>You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine. I did not know what kind of a person I was supporting with my shopping dollars, but you have now shown me I am shopping at the wrong store. </p> <p>I have read both your WSJ Article and now your blog. I must confess I was surprised to learn that I was supporting a person and, apparently, a company whole ideals are so much at odds with what I believe. It is easy for you, a weathly man to call Obama's health care plan Socialism, but many seniors, the military and all federal employees have access to 'socialism' health care. I know that the loss of my family's business will not cause you any financial pain, as rich as you are, but in good conscience I cannot and will not shop at a store that benefits a many with views such as yours. I used to associate Whole Foods with healthy, but now I understand its all about money for you ' those without health care be damned. As a small business man, when I first started out my largest expense was health coverage that did not cover anything until I had spent $5,000 each year, but still cost me $800/ month for my wife and I. Therefore, each year, before I had any health care coverage, I had to spend $14,600. Try starting a small business with that hanging over your head. But then, you are rich and nearly $15,000 is nothing to you. Thank you for letting me know just what you stand for so that I can vote with my dollars and spend them at another store.</p>

Bill Cooke says …

<p>Thank you for speaking out on this issue. I find myself in general agreement with you. I wish that you would speak out more. I wish you would run for office. We need a progressive libertarian in the White House, instead of the authoritarians we have had in recent years.</p>

Patty K says …

<p>Sorry if this is too lengthy, but, I'd like to briefly address your 8 points:</p> <p>1) High Deductible/HSA's ' Neither of these does anything to lower the rising cost of premiums. People have a hard enough time saving for a home, car, education, retirement, etc. which I guess could be, but, shouldn't be considered a luxury, however, saving for an unknown illness, I don't think that's even a viable option for most people.</p> <p>2) Tax Benefits- This also does nothing to prevent the sky rocketing cost of premiums. So what if it's deductible, that's just more incentive to up the cost &amp; we all pay in the end anyway.</p> <p>3) Repeal State Laws ' Insurance companies must be licensed in each state that they write business in. The state insurance department regulates &amp; audits them, therefore, there is consumer protection &amp; they can assist with any complaints. Companies are also assessed annually based on the premium they collect &amp; pay into the states Guaranty Fund. In the event that they go bankrupt, the benefits of their claimants will be honored. Check with any state insurance department or do a google search, you may be shocked to find just how much insurance companies pay in fines, millions. Even more is spent on their CEO's, legal teams, marketing, &amp; oh, their medical director &amp; team of death panelists. Does it occur to anyone where all the money that insurance companies spend comes from?</p> <p>4) Government Mandates ' Just what are the current government mandates'¦mammograms, chiropractors, physician assistants, midwives, etc'¦I don't see how this ties into more costs than would be otherwise undertaken. </p> <p>5) Tort Reform ' This is a tremendous myth, perpetrated on a misinformed public because apparently, it works. Studies have proven that these costs are minuscule in the whole scheme of things. I don't know what you'd consider 'ruinous lawsuits' however, it is difficult at best to even file a malpractice suit, with the up front costs &amp; getting a provider to admit that one of their own is responsible for anything is next to impossible. I think that if you were truly victim of malpractice you wouldn't think twice about seeking compensation. There are some extremely questionable providers out there with complaint after complaint &amp; well, just aren't qualified to practice. How about the AMA &amp; nursing boards reigning them in instead of letting them go with a slap on the wrist. Simply put, malpractice premiums are high because of supply &amp; demand'¦Those with the supply can demand what they want.</p> <p>6) Health Care Costs Transparency- Please forgive me for not quite understanding this point. I certainly know what my last doctor visit cost &amp; haven't had any problems when requesting this information. </p> <p>7) Enact Medicare Reform ' Not sure what you mean by 'patient empowerment and responsibility' or how this reforms Medicare. Stop raiding the social security trust, that's a start.</p> <p> <img src="The%20CEO%E2%80%99s%20Blog%20%C2%BB%20Blog%20Archive%20%C2%BB%20Health%20Care%20Reform%20%E2%80%93%20Full%20Article_files/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" class="wp-smiley"> Voluntary Tax Donation ' hmmm, see #1'¦ While it's certainly a noble effort, it's not very viable &amp; still does not do anything to address the escalation of premiums.</p> <p>I have been in the insurance industry for over 30 years &amp; have seen many changes. An awful lot of time &amp; money is spent on getting out of benefit payments. They are after all, not only in the healthcare business, but, in business for profit. When they make bad investments, need another lobbyist, a new plane, another fancy high rise, whatever, the loss has to be shifted somewhere, unfortunately, it's all too often at our expense, in high premiums, denial of benefits &amp; recision of coverage. </p> <p>Considering that I am employed with a large insurer, one might think that I have exceptional health coverage, but, the fact is I passed on the sub standard policy that was offered &amp; chose to be covered under my husband's policy even though his isn't that great either.</p> <p>Be open minded, do not believe the talking heads that are only doing the bidding of their corporate masters. Do you honestly believe that they are looking out for YOUR best interests? Do your own research, the more FACTS that you know, the better you are to make an actual informed decision. Before you get hoodwinked by the 'Socialism' buzz word, please know that if you ever went to a public school, used a public library, swam in a public pool, had a picnic in a public park, used public transportation, drank or used public water, hunted or fished on public land, care about clean air, clean water, food safety, had to call 911, or the police or fire department, then know that these all fit into the scary 'Socialism' category. </p> <p>There are no easy answers, however, there must be an honest civilized dialogue &amp; desire to see real change that affects real people. There should not be a profit at the expense of sickness. Too many of us are only one sickness away from bankruptcy. We cannot wait until it happens to us before we can feel the real pain of others.</p> <p>One last point'¦I drive to Whole Foods on a public road!</p>

Daniel Leyva says …

<p>Mr. Mackey;</p> <p>While I welcome your invitation to continue the debate on health care in a civil maner, as our comander in chief has invited us to do, I would like to tell you that I have been a loyal costumer of your W 24th street store in Manhattan until yesterday, but no longer or ever again. The main reason for my anger about your op-ed was not the title but the content, which uses a quote of Margaret Tatcher that is out of date and offensive. Your sugestions for a health care reform are not better than the ones currently proposed by our government, but actually much worse. I have made a vow never to set food in your business and I will continue suporting the boycott, because I don't thing your views are contributing to a more civil discussion on health care, I found them -to the contrary- misleading to people trying to understand what this debate is all about. I hope this oportunity allow for more healthy food oriented business to flourish in New York City.</p>

Ralph Dosser says …

<p>From now on it's Vitamin Cottage, Safeway, King Soopers ' not one more dime for Whole Foods.</p> <p>''¦ 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.'</p> <p>The last thing I need to do is spend my money at a store that promotes this kind of idiocy, and then tries to weasel out of it.</p> <p>I'm guessing Mr. Mackey has excellent health insurance and/or enough money to provide his family with everything they need. I doubt all of his employees can say the same ' I know I can't.</p>

james says …

<p>Whole Foods will no longer receive my services. Good fortunes for Trader Joe's.</p> <p>Too bad, I really liked the place.</p>

Monica Schmitz says …

<p>Thank you for speaking out on this issue. I have only been to your store a few times, but now I plan on becoming a regular and will drive out of my way to do so. I will be heading to our local Whole Foods to pick up supplies for my husbands hiking trip. Keep on fighting for what is right.</p>

holly says …

<p>I will vote with my dollars and no longer shop at whole foods. I have other choices and am happy that you have clarified your position on health care reform. I don't find your ideas particularly repulsive just non-progressive. I prefer to support those with ideas more in line with mine and the organic farmers who supply my food.</p>

G says …

<p>I am proud to work for a company where a CEO stands up for what he believes in. Way to go John!</p>

mark says …

<p>John Mackey cannot possibly believe that his views on health care are compatible with green or any sense of social responsibility. Rather my family and I feel that as a loyal customers of both Whole Foods and Wild Oats we have just discovered that our local green market was really bought out by Rupert Murdoch, and John Mackey installed as Whole Food's version of Roger Ayles. </p> <p>Fortunately Long Beach also has Bristol Farms to serve our family of five. Shame on Whole Foods management for the phony social responsibility that Mr. Mackey's cynical WSJ comments bring clearly into focus.</p>

Lynn Starun says …

<p>Mr Mackey,<br> I was so surprised to hear your position on health care. I disagree with you and am shocked to find that the CEO of the company I give so many of my grocery dollars to is joining the fight against true health care reform. Shame on you. I will be taking my shopping dollars elsewhere, perhaps Trader Joe.<br> Lynn in Summit, NJ</p>

John says …

<p>I was going to go shopping at your Fairfax/West Hollywood location tonight. Now I'll go to Ralph's and Trader Joe's instead. </p> <p>If you want to inject yourself into an already dishonest debate, you can do it with someone else's money. </p> <p>On a human level, you really should be ashamed of yourself. Either you really believe the nonsense you wrote, which is ethically bankrupt and intellectually weak, or you are purposefully lying to persuade the easily swayed. Either is pretty sad. </p> <p>If you don't have the self-awareness to be ashamed of yourself, I will be ashamed of you for you. I'll be ashamed of you the whole time I am shopping at Ralph's. </p> <p>An Ex Customer.</p>

Joe says …

<p>I agree with your discussion about the relationship between diet and health'the part that was mostly deleted by the WSJ.</p> <p>I am more familiar than most people with HSA plans and I can agree that a properly designed HSA/High Deductible Health Plan (where the employer funds the insurance as well as well as a large portion of the HSA account)can control medical costs and increase employee satsifaction. Unfortunately most employers respond to this environment by contributing little or nothing to the HSA account. The concept can work in theory but in practice for many employees is a disaster.</p> <p>The rest of your article is right wing garbage'I don't necessarily agree with a large part of what the house and senate have already passed, and I agree we need to find a way to get to universal coverage at a lower cost than then the CBO projections. But regurgitated right wing talking points that will make the situation worse are not an answer.</p> <p>What I find most amazing is that you would publish this position knowing that a majority of your consumers tend to be liberal and are likely to support a government run plan or even a single payer system. By taking such a hard right 'reactionary' position to the healthcare debate, you have effectively blown off a number of your best customers. For that you should be fired.</p>

Hannah N. says …

<p>If you don't speak for your company, then why put 'CEO of WholeFoods' in the Byline?</p>

JK says …

<p>As an individual you certainly have the right to speak your mind. As the president of a company you must also know that giving your opinion will also have an impact on your business. </p> <p>Your support of big insurance companies clearly identifies your view of how you think our country should be run and it couldn't be any more different from my view. I've worked at the same company for over 20 years and each and every year my premiums have increased more than 20%.</p> <p>My hard earned money will, unfortunately, continue to be spent paying my insurance premiums. It will no longer be spent purchasing items in your store. I have been a weekly customer of the store for many years but that ends now.</p>

Meg says …

<p>Thank you for your article. I think that in order to have true health care reform, we need to hear many ideas and debate our options. I personally agree with many of the ideas you listed and I look forward to hearing what else can be done to improve health care in America. This is certainly a sensitive issue and we will never find a one size fits all approach to it. However, when we shut down all sides of the agrument, we will never find a compromise.</p>

Linda says …

<p>Mr. Mackay,<br> Kudos. Now if I had a Whole Foods near me I certainly would be shopping there. As a matter of fact, all of my friends would also. I live 20 miles south of Albany NY; When are you coming here? We've waited so long!</p>

Wendy says …

<p>Thank you for a thoughtful and intelligent take on the healthcare issue.</p> <p>I am a Whole Foods customer (and I travel 45 minutes for the privilege!) and will continue, proudly, to be one. I am also a conservative who is disgusted with the changes being forced on our country.</p> <p>Keep the faith!</p>

Jan says …

<p>This is one insurance industry conservative who will be shopping more at Whole Foods. I love your store and agree with you.</p>

Bex says …

<p>I can guarantee that all the folks here who agree with you ' ARE NOT WHOLE FOODS SHOPPERS.</p> <p>I also think you can see how the progressives perceive your 2nd 'statement' by all the 'Anti-Obama' people who are telling you what a great guy you are. </p> <p>What will matter will be the bottom line, however. And that will be known over the next few months. We'll see how many of the folks telling you how wonderful you are here will pay $12 for a bottle of olive oil and $5 for French 84% butterfat French butter.</p>

former WF customer says …

<p>Mr. Mackey, you certainly have a right to your opinion and to voice it, however I will no longer be supporting your store, which is my right as well. We desperately need true health care reform (coverage for everyone, no exceptions, cost regulation, no denial of service) and since you can't see this yourself, I would prefer to support other businesses that have a greater sense of social responsibilty than you do.</p>

Thomas says …

<p>Hello Sir,<br> Just wanted to let you know that although I have never shopped at a Whole Foods store before, you have found a new patron in me! Enjoyed the article, thanks for expressing your opinion.</p>

PITA says …

<p>Well written reform that should be considered by the 'czars' of health care. It is the line of thinking to most normal American's on this whole business of unnecessary control by the government. They really should reform the problem, not re-form another problem.</p> <p>If you had a Whole Foods Market closer than 300 miles from me, I would support your enterprise. pita out!</p>

Healthy Gourmet says …

<p>Thank you for some very interesting ideas to consider regarding health care reform. As a political independent, I'm a bit shocked by some of the knee-jerk, fascistic responses by those who cannot tolerate differing opinions and honest debate. My family will be doing extra shopping at Whole Foods this month! Don't ever be intimidated by closed-minded political extremists and please continue to express your views freely.</p>

Maria - Kirkland, WA says …

<p>John ' you are insensitive and out of touch. You are entitled to your opinion, but you came out as a representative of Whole Foods and are seeking to stop health reform that we all need ' even those that don't realize it yet. </p> <p>Remember, anyone can get laid off and lose affordable coverage. Maybe you should experience this and walk several miles in other people's shoes. Imagine that you cannot afford your store prices and have no job or health insurance. What's your 'corporate' position then?</p> <p>I'm glad to be a vegetarian in favor of raw foods, but I will also boycott Whole Foods in Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond, WA until you retract or resign. I'm also spreading the word to everyone I know in CA, FL, IL, MD, TX, etc. to boycott and tell more friends, and so on . . . .</p>

Rico C says …

<p>Bravo Mr. Mackey! People need to take a closer look at themselves and realize that they are in control of their health. Their decisions on what they eat affect their health. We spent the day today at a water and theme park ' Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana ' and could not believe the number of obese parents and (sadly) children. This used to not be acceptable, but today you can parade around a theme park in bathing suits and not be accountable for what you eat and how you look. I applaud the fact that that you have suggested people be accountable for their decisions instead of expecting for government to bail them out. I do not have a Whole Foods in Evansville, Indiana but hope you consider locating here and will continue to drive 90 minutes to shop in Louisville, KY.</p>

Kathryn McAleece says …

<p>I read your article in the WSJ and find that in general I am in agreement with you. I have just spent the last 8 years living in a country with a single payer public system- Canada. A single payer system is great as long as you are in general good health. It is true, waits are long, general practioners are in short supply as are specialists. Who wants to wait four months to have a cancerous kidney removed, be sent home and then come back to the hospital two weeks later because an organ transplant came in and the transplant got priority. You see the operating room shut down at 4:30pm. Or, have your child diagnosed with cancer by your family physican and then go on the waiting list for treatment. The waiting list is at least 3 months long and in some cases longer. Manny parents just go to the emergency room and have their child admitted because once diagnosed (again) at the hospital, the child goes to the head of the list. Be admitted to the hospital for testing, be told the machine is broken and if you go home it will be at least three months until you can get an appointment. Stay overnight and the test can be completed sometime the next day. The income taxes are high, a few years ago an 'insurance premium' was added based on income and sales taxes run 15%. Not to long ago the provencial govts. were warned by Ottawa that the hospitals run in the black or close their doors. No more bail outs. SARS created chaos among the nurses because private nurses were paid more than public nurses. The govt. had to anty up with big temporary salaries for nurses dealing with SARS patients or face a boycott. The answers won't come quickly or easily. Rather than rushing, Washington needs to get this right and you have some great solutions. Thanks for speaking up.</p>

Jake D says …

<p>Well said. You have the right as any American does, to express your views without the fear of retribution. The Left is quick to judge, sentence and execute those that do not share their views. I am a Whole Foods customer and will continue shopping despite what the CEO may feel is the right direction for health care. Why should we punish anyone for differing with our own views'¦.that would be the ultimate un-American act.</p>

Charlotte McCullough says …

<p>As a politically moderate conservative, lower middle income person I find your views on Health Care reform very out of touch with the needs of ordinary people. The only things in your article that I can can agree with are the need for tort reform and that a healthy diet will help people be more healthy. My more healthy diet will come from a different store from now on.</p>

will says …

<p>For the single payer big government folks'¦<br> Even if a single payer government controlled health care system worked it would still be wrong in a U.S.constitution republic. The American enterprise is more about liberty than security. A greater free market in health care, plus much less government control, will lead to considerably lower health care costs. Then health care would be affordable. Government is ultimately about applied violence to enforce social arrangements. The less the better. Everyone is free to help his neighbor as much as he wants including forming voluntary health co-ops, helping to pay medical bills, etc. Personal sacrifice is a key aspect of true love. Why do you need government to take from someone else to fulfill your responsibility to care for others? Theft through the ballot box to finance 'collective compassion' is wrong and outside the constitutional limits placed on the Federal government. Every new government mandate is another gun pointed at our heads.</p>

Ellie says …

<p>Thank you! It's about time someone spoke up with<br> some common sense solutions. Tort reform/lawsuit limits must be part of any serious program to address the cost of healthcare. I want to support a business that deals in facts rather than hyperbole. Would you consider siting a store in the 08865 zip code?</p>

D. Rob says …

<p>Dear John: (this is a for real dear john letter)<br> You are so very misinformed or just plain dumb. My wife had a serious illness which was made worse by an hospital caused infection. But the worse part was the difficulty in getting the insurance co. to pay the bills, although they were able to pay their ceo his $1.5 billion retirement package. Now for my experience with national healthcare. Last year we were visiting relatives in Scandanavia. My wife took ill and her cousin called for an appt. She saw the Dr 2 hrs later (not a NP) and it cost all of 10 euros $15.00). So much for long waits and poor care.<br> As to the point made by someone who described himself as a doctor, insurance companies already interfere in medical care decisions.</p>

Casey Wright says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>I'm not even going to try and argue the merits of health care reform. I concede the point that you have a right to your views, but seriously, how stupid are you? What did you possibly hope to gain by regurgitating right-wing talking points in the Wall Street Journal while at the helm of a company that makes its living on a socially progressive image? What did you think would happen? If I were a WFMI shareholder right now, I'd be fuming.</p>

tom says …

<p>John,<br> Don't cave and don't back down. I don't even have to state whether I agree with you or not but I will fight for your right to free speech. (that one is in the constitution). I spent fifty dollars at WF tonight to<br> show my support. It's becoming the American way for some to attack those they don't agree with in order to shut them down, because they can't counter their position with reason.<br> Sad</p>

Mike says …

<p>I was flabbergasted to read this unworkable libertarian answer to health care reform coming from what I thought was a socially responsible entity, which I support with large amounts of shopping. It is about as reasonable as the libertarian financial system we just had to save from total ruin with taxpayer funds. Maybe on some island somewhere we can all make this thing work, and sing songs at the luau about individuals liberating the universe ala John Galt. </p> <p>But you clearly have no workable idea for how to address this problem, especially given your young and footloose staff. The rest of us live in the real world </p> <p>You ideas for fixing this would be one thing, but to savage decent efforts by other people as socialism and dangerous is reprehensible, ideological and deeply alienating for your customers. I spend about $10,000 a year there, and have for years. Now you can take that out of your till. I won't set foot in your store again and I am going to stop by and tell the manager, who I know well, why they won't be seeing me again. </p> <p>As if health care was just another derivative or commodity to manipulate. Atrocious.</p>

Heath says …

<p>I must say, after reading your thoughts, I am now very inclined to seek out a whole foods store. I have a whole new perspective of Whole Foods. I would love to see one in my town of Ft. Smith, AR. Thank you for calling a spade a spade.</p>

Luke says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>Great job on this. </p> <p>Hang in there, and please don't back away from what you wrote. I think it's a shame that Whole Foods Corporation has recused itself from this debate and doesn't take an official position on this important issue. I'm a long time customer of yours, and have spent thousands of dollars in your stores. I have also spent time standing in front of your bulletin board and read your core values waiting for one or more of my kids to finish using your bathroom.</p> <p>Please, tell me which one of Whole Foods' core values the positions you espoused conflict with?</p> <p>'¢Selling the highest quality natural and organic products available<br> '¢Satisfying and delighting our customers<br> '¢Supporting team member happiness and excellence<br> '¢Creating wealth through profits &amp; growth<br> '¢Caring about our communities &amp; our environment<br> '¢Creating ongoing win-win partnerships with our suppliers<br> '¢Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education</p> <p>It seems to me that given the fact that the grocery business is extremely labor intensive, and you probably spend more money on healthcare every year than you do on fresh produce (I'll bet it's close, right?), having a sustainable and cost effective national health care policy such as the one you spelled out would seem to be completely in line with these values. This would let you lower your prices, which I would find delightful. It puts more money in your employees' pockets. It ensures that no one in this country would be denied healthcare because of poverty (by the way, that's a privilege that already exists in the form of Medicaid.) And, lowering the cost of healthcare for EVERYONE which your plan would do is certainly about the best thing anyone could do to help our communities.</p> <p>As a long time customer of your store, I know that many of the folks on your team and walking down the aisles pushing shopping carts aren't big fans of this whole capitalism thing. Still, it's surprising to me that your idea of putting the first $2,500 of everyone's health expenditures into their hands instead of some anonymous third party payer isn't more appealing to them. To me, that tactic is the ultimate transfer of power. Finally, we all have a chance to stick it to the man and spend our healthcare dollars as we see fit, even if that's on the supplement aisle at Whole Foods instead of at the pharmacy (yet another reason Whole Food's Corporate should be on the Mackey bandwagon.)</p> <p>I implore you again, don't back down. The apologetic, context- providing blog post is the wrong way to go. You and your brand have a great relationship with the people who are digging the 1000 page option. It's okay to spend some of the goodwill you enjoy engaging them in the conversation. It's not surprising they are reacting so angrily'¦ No one has articulated the opposing view as cogently and thoughtfully as you have. It will take a while for the logic of it to sink in. Keep doing it. Please!</p> <p>As for all of the foot stomping that's going on about 'I'll never shop there again'¦' I would let your cash register tally be the barometer of how valid those threats are. You have wonderful stores, and this is just a bump in the road. It will be hard to stay mad at you.</p>

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