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Wal-Mart's 2009 Health Care Plan Includes 'Debbie Shank Exception'
Date:12/10/2008

Wal-Mart Watch and Jim Shank attribute the change to public outrage against Wal-Mart's treatment of Debbie Shank

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Wal-Mart Watch claimed a victory for Wal-Mart workers today with Wal-Mart's addition of a subrogation exception to the company's 2009 health care plan for cases similar to that of former Missouri Wal-Mart employee Debbie Shank.

Wal-Mart Watch confirmed that Wal-Mart's 2009 health care plan exempts the company's right to subrogate against a covered person completely in cases of 1) paraplegia or quadriplegia; 2) severe burns; 3) total and permanent physical or mental disability; or 4) death. In all other cases, the plan also limits the right to recover to 50% (from 100% previously) of a settlement plus attorney's fees.

Many company health care plans include the legal right to subrogate or reclaim medical expenses paid by a health care plan if the patient wins money in a legal settlement. The right is rarely if ever exercised by companies in tragic cases such as Debbie Shank's.

The policy change may prevent Wal-Mart from putting another family through the agony it caused the Shanks. Ultimately, the decision to pursue subrogation still remains with Wal-Mart's health care plan administrative committee, but Wal-Mart may choose to apply the exceptions liberally rather than risk the kind of public relations debacle it incurred by going after Debbie Shank.

"Knowing what Debbie and our family experienced with Wal-Mart's attempts to take away Debbie's financial security for her ongoing medical care on top of a very real, life-changing tragedy, I am grateful that the focus on our situation will spare other families the same type of suffering," said Jim Shank. "I wish it wouldn't have taken national outrage to push Wal-Mart to do the right thing, but I'm glad that the company listened to everyone who spoke up on
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SOURCE Wal-Mart Watch
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