In my bread-and-butter job, I'm an advocate for home health care. The patients of home health are the frail elderly and the low-income disabled, which means 90% of the revenue stream for home care is Medicare/Medicaid. Those of you who follow health care politics know that this translates into home care sitting on the bottom rung of the health care pay scale. In fact, home care providers qualify as the "working poor."
These working poor make house calls to dispense their care and compassion, which means they drive (especially here in rural Wisconsin). When your drive for your living, you get killed when gas costs go insane, as they are now. When you're poor and you drive for a living, you reach a point when you just can't do it. In this case, that will mean frail elderly patients and low-income disabled will either go without care or be forced into institutional care (where the risks for them and the costs for all of us are higher).
I asked Exxon to help. The reply is below the fold.
First, keep in mind this CNN headline from earlier this year:
Exxon shatters profit records
Oil giant makes corporate history by booking $11.7 billion in quarterly profit; earns $1,300 a second in 2007.
Here's what I wrote to Exxon:
I am writing to ask for your help in ensuring the health care, comfort and dignity of Wisconsin's low-income disabled and frail elderly patients. These are the folks who make up the bulk of home health care patients in our state, and their care is being threatened by the strain the rising gas costs are putting on the nurses and home health aides who care for them.
Last year alone, Wisconsin's home health care providers drove the equivalent of the Earth's circumference 2,500 times in their mission of healing and mercy. You can imagine then, how the recent rise in gas costs hurts these care givers more than most of the rest of us. They make house calls: They have to drive to see their patients! Furthermore, the increased fuel costs are coming out of the pockets of the direct care givers, not from their employers, and these care givers are already at the low end of the health care pay range. Some are being forced out of home care, some being forced to shrink their service areas and some are being forced to turn down patients who need them.
They need your help, and helping them would be a wonderful way of showing Exxon's good corporate citizenship and compassion. Is there some method by which you can offer Wisconsin's home care providers relief? I don't know what options may be available, but something that provides them with a discount at the pump would give them the most direct and immediate help. Our association is ready and willing to be your partner in this -- please let us know how we may work together to help these health care providers continue to care for the people who need them.
Thank you for your kind consideration and assistance.
I am writing in response to your email requesting a donation of gas cards.
Unfortunately, we are unable to respond to your request positively. As I am sure you can appreciate, ExxonMobil receives numerous requests for donations and support each year, yet we cannot respond favorably to all of the many worthwhile projects and programs that are brought to our attention.
We do, however, suggest that you contact your local service station to see if they can donate some cards.
Please accept our best wishes for your success in this new project.
ExxonMobil Corporate Citizenship & Community Investments
Now, consider this LA Times headline from earlier this month: Soaring costs are squeezing gas station owners too
Gas station operators say the squeeze began years ago, as oil companies siphoned off more of the profits, took a cut of in-store sales and left owners to grapple with higher rents and equipment mandates.
...Times have gotten so hard that some operators fear they'll have to close down.
Some already have. Pennsylvania-based Uni-Marts, which owned or supplied 283 convenience stores and gas stations, filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Court protection in late May, saying its cash reserves were drained by fuel costs.
"The number of retailers on the brink of bankruptcy is now at a dangerous level," said Bill Douglass of Sherman, Texas, who owns 15 convenience stores and supplies fuel to 150 independent retailers.
"In the past four months, 10 of the dealers to whom I supply motor fuel have relinquished to me the deeds to their businesses," he told Congress last month.
In short: Exxon, which has more profit now than any company in thehistory of human enterprise, is asked to help overcome the barrier its record profits are creating between health care and the frail elderly and poor disabled who need care, and in its negative reply directs us to seek help from another group of people being harmed by its record profits.
And, excuse me, but why can't Exxon "respond favorably to all of the many worthwhile projects and programs that are brought to (its) attention"? More pointedly, why can't it respond positively to this request? I calculate that it would "cost" Exxon less than $1 million a year. That much evaporates when they open the HQ doors in the morning. When Jabba the Hut retired as Exxon's CEO in 2006, his parachute alone was more than $400 million (the year before, he had a $56.1 million paycheck, plus perks and bonuses). Exxon spent $3.1 million to lobby the federal government in the first quarter of this year, and spent in excess of $16.9 million to lobby the federal government in 2007.
Read those numbers again. Let them sink in. Think about what home care could do with a tiny fraction of that.
I'd call this a failure in determining priorities. Well... that's what I'll call it when I'm being polite.
The old excuse of "we can't help everyone so we won't help anyone" is as morally, ethically and logically bankrupt now as it ever was.
I'll leave it to you to count the number of ways this is disgustingly immoral. I'm busy, right now, making my congressional delegation aware. I think I'll let the the news networks know, too.