September 22, 2009, 5:18 EDT
Thank Goodness. The mean summer of 2009 is finally over. Not only did we see an ugly side of America in the town hall meetings across the country and observe a Congressman insult the President of the United States in a joint session of Congress, it was mean season for persons with obesity.
Alabama has decided to impose a tax on overweight state employees; President Obama’s nominee for Surgeon General was attacked for her weight; the American Medical Association adopted as official policy that persons with obesity should not be eligible for disability payments and the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Toby Cosgrove, told his people to stop hiring overweight persons.
Dr. Cosgrove is a major leader in health care and in the health care reform debate. No doubt he sees the Cleveland Clinic, which already bars smokers from employment, as a leader not only in Cuyahoga County, Ohio but in the nation as well. Good solutions to the obesity epidemic? Make the overweight unemployed so they can’t get health insurance or disability payments if they are disabled? How does a leader like Dr. Cosgrove believe overweight/obese people will live? How will they preserve their families? Pay the rent? Clothe the kids? Not enough people unemployed in Ohio?
As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cosgrove is slyly honing his message, trying to tamp down ire from obesity advocates while sending a clear signal to everyone at Cleveland Clinic: the boss doesn’t want to hire fat people. But there is another reason: The Cleveland Clinic is launching a for-profit “wellness” program and this attack on obese people keeps Cosgrove in the limelight. Does Cleveland Clinic’s Toby Cosgrove really hate fat people? : MedCity News Perhaps Dr. Cosgrove’s business strategy is to scare Clevelanders into paying to go to his ‘wellness’ clinic. Cleveland Clinic’s Lifestyle 180 promotes better health through better living | Health and Fitness – cleveland.com – - cleveland.com
Is the Cleveland Clinic plan mere discrimination? Perhaps we underestimate the good Dr. Cosgrove. Perhaps it is just a way to gin up business on the income side while cutting personnel expenses. What great health care reform!
The summer also brought the deaths of two Kennedys – Senator Ted Kennedy and his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. We were in Massachusetts at the time of Eunice’s funeral and watched it on television and then watched Senator Kennedy’s a few weeks later. It doesn’t take much to see how dedicated these two were to the elimination of discrimination in whatever its form…persons with mental illness, persons denied health care, gays, women and the disabled. Senator Kennedy said, “Every American should have the opportunity to receive a quality education, a job that respects their dignity and protects their safety, and health care that does not condemn those whose health is impaired to a lifetime of poverty and lost opportunity.” Ending Segregation and Discrimination Against Disabled Americans | In His Own Words | Edward M. Kennedy
Where Dr. Cosgrove and the AMA would throw the sickest Americans under the bus, the Kennedys would pick them up. We can’t say how the intentional discrimination promoted by the good Dr. Cosgrove will work out. We do know he’s no Ted Kennedy. Thank Goodness the summer is over.