One Avenue, Two Faces: White House, Crack House

Long before “Occupy Wall Street,” journalist Sean Holton occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Southeast for this look at how the powerless live on the other end of the President’s street. (A longtime Trail Mix pal — and my best friend — Sean is facing a tough fight against brain cancer and sends thanks to all those here who wished him well yesterday on his birthday weekend.)

Sean Holton
The Orlando Sentinel
Author: Sean Holton, Sentinel Washington Bureau
Date: Jan 26, 1992

Up there, on the northwest side of Washington, D.C., is the most impressive address in America: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But down here, down on the southeast side of town, visitors to that address won’t find the White House. They won’t even find a building, or an official listing on the tax rolls. Nearby they’ll find a torn-down gas station, a McDonald’s restaurant and one or two shivering beggars on the sidewalk.

This is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Southeast – the flip side of official Washington. It’s part of a world where drug dealers, not lobbyists, fight for power, where guns are more essential than fax machines. It’s in a neighborhood where middle-income homeowners band together to march against fears that otherwise would keep them locked indoors. It’s a place on the verge of getting better and on the verge of getting worse.

Tuesday night President Bush will deliver a State of the Union address to a nation that is wondering whether it’s on the verge of getting better or getting worse. His speech, written at the 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. “up there” on the northwest side, will be broad in scope and cover a variety of topics, foreign and domestic.

But down here, down in southeast Washington, a small slice of the truth about the state of the union exists too. It comes from a perspective separated from “official Washington” by more than city blocks.

“That’s the corner of 1600 Pennsylvania Southeast. . . . You stand on that strip, and you take in everything,” said John “Peter Bug” Matthews, 42, a community activist who runs a shoe-repair academy for neighborhood children. “And you can see how deserted, how unattended that strip is compared with 1600 Northwest. What’s the difference? Nobody important ever lived here.

“The president is the most important person in the United States. . . . but how do the people weigh in?” Matthews asked. “If there are no people, can there be a president?

“Who comes first?” he asked.

‘Greatness of the Empire’

When architect-engineer Pierre L’Enfant laid out the plan for Washington, D.C., in 1791, he said he wanted “the greatness of the empire” reflected in the design.

What evolved was a city centered on the U.S. Capitol, divided into quadrants and organized along a symmetrical grid of streets criss-crossed diagonally by avenues.

Each quadrant has its own set of numbered and lettered streets, which increase numerically and alphabetically outward from the Capitol. Each quadrant is a rough mirror image of its neighbor. So in a purely cartographic sense, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E. is the direct reflection of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.

Sixteenth Street never actually crosses Pennsylvania Avenue up by the White House, and the same is true down here. About 100 yards before 16th Street Southeast can reach Pennsylvania Avenue, it withers to an end, rubbed out by a block of row houses. Where the streets would intersect, there are only the remnants of the gas station – a lightpole, a concrete island, an abandoned gas pump shut inside a rotting, wooden box.

To the south and east, past Barney Circle, the filthy Anacostia River slithers by under the John Philip Sousa Bridge. The waterway and its tributaries have served as a dumping zone for car tires, refrigerators and 55-gallon drums containing who knows what. Although local and regional governments have launched a restoration plan, toxins such as PCBs and chlordane make the water unfit for fishing and swimming.

Last Sunday a pipe at a petroleum company just downstream from the bridge ruptured and sent about 2,000 gallons of fuel oil gushing into the Anacostia. The resulting slick spread for a mile.

Just north of the bridge is the Congressional Cemetery, where J. Edgar Hoover and some 75 former congressmen are among the buried. Three or four blocks beyond that are D.C. General Hospital and Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

RFK is home to the Redskins, contenders in today’s Super Bowl and one of official Washington’s most celebrated institutions. D.C. General is a less likely destination for the city’s powerful.

The hospital serves “increasing numbers of substance abusers, babies born of addicted mothers, the poor, the homeless, violence-related trauma cases and a growing number of HIV-infected patients,” according to a recent annual report. In 1990 the hospital spent $1.3 million caring for abandoned infants, known as “boarder babies.”

Moving west from the hospital, back to Pennsylvania Avenue at 13th Street, is the Potomac Gardens public housing project. Its grungy brown buildings cover a city block. Its sphere of influence – as a center of crack-cocaine trafficking and related violence – envelops the entire neighborhood.

“There’s two ways you get in the paper here in Washington, D.C.,” Matthews said. “You’re either a screw-up politician or you die. . . . You are killed.”

At Potomac Gardens it’s usually the second way.

In The Washington Post, in the front section, the world of the White House is chronicled for posterity. In the back pages, reports of life and death at Potomac Gardens are filed and forgotten:

Front page: “VIDEO SHOWS ENTIRE BUSH COLLAPSE.”
Back pages: Potomac Gardens, Jan. 10, 1992 – “Police Seize AK-47 Rifle in Southeast Arrest; Man Also Had Pistol, 37 Bags of Cocaine”

Front page: “ENDING SILENCE, INSIDER LIFTS CIA VEIL; FIERS TELLS PANEL GATES DID NOT KNOW DETAILS OF IRAN-CONTRA”
Back pages: Potomac Gardens, Sept. 20 1991 – “Man Slain in Complex in Southeast; Residents Witness Morning Shooting”

Front page: “COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF LEAVES MILITARY DETAILS TO PENTAGON”
Back pages: Potomac Gardens, Jan. 19, 1991 – “Youth, 14, Charged in Hill Slaying. Lawyer Was Killed in Car at Light.”

Every once in a while, the two sides of Washington intersect at Potomac Gardens. Jesse Jackson used the project as a backdrop for a press conference to announce he wouldn’t run for president in 1992, calling it “the urban crisis personified, the epitome of national neglect.”

Former White House aide Oliver North performed some of his court-ordered, 1,200 hours of community service there before his Iran-Contra conviction was overturned.

“I think he gave them some hot dogs or something,” Matthews said.

The Power of light

On a shelf in Eleanor Hill’s dining room is a reminder of the other Washington. It’s a photograph of Secretary of State James Baker, standing right next to her and smiling broadly. It was taken at her 1989 retirement party, when she left the State Department after 34 years as a data-processing supervisor.

But Baker’s smile, and all his power, seem so distant when Hill walks through her neighborhood.

“This is the torch area – the hot area, as we call it,” Hill said as she stood on a street corner not far from her home. “It’s the drugs more than anything else.”

Her husband, Stanley Hill, said, “All types of crime. You got the muggings. You got the break-ins – all types of crime.”

Eleanor, 58, and Stanley, 60, a retired Defense Department employee, live in a well-kept row house a half-block from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E. Like many of the middle-income black residents here, the Hills bought in the 1950s, reared children, put them through college, and are now growing old and wondering where the next generation is taking the neighborhood.

One possibility is suggested by an influx of young government workers – a second wave of Stanleys and Eleanors – seeking cheaper housing than what can be found further up Capitol Hill. Another possibility is suggested by Potomac Gardens and its crack-house satellites.

As leaders of the Barney Circle Neighborhood Watch, the Hills are doing what they can to stave off the second possibility.

They patrol the streets nightly with about 25 others, armed only with two-way radios, flashlights, clipboards and orange hats. Besides patrolling, they aim to choke out drug traffic by writing down license plates of cars that stop at crack houses.

“When you get out there and start, they (drug dealers) do try to intimidate you,” Stanley said. “But if they intimidate you, and drive people back into their houses, then they’ve got control of the area.”

Police credit the neighborhood watch for helping make the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue a safer place to walk at night. The area is part of the 1st Police District, which recorded the city’s sharpest drop in crime last year.

“That was the first time we’ve had a killing around here in a while,” Eleanor said nonchalantly as she walked past the Domino’s Pizza, at 15th and Pennsylvania, where Andre Joseph Kenny Jr. was shot dead Jan. 7.

The muggings by the 7-Eleven at 14th and Pennsylvania seem to have dropped off, too, her husband added. Maybe it’s just the cold weather, he said, or maybe it’s the fluorescent lights the manager installed.

Eleanor said, “To deter crime, all you need is light.”

Stanley added, “It’s amazing, in a way: people running from the light.”

‘You’d See the Blood’

Here, on this side of Pierre L’Enfant’s looking glass, the faces of official Washington dissolve, and their voices fade to nothing.

Marvin Thomas, 25, has heard of President Bush but just barely. He draws a blank when asked about White House officials such as Richard Darman, the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

But Thomas doesn’t care much about Darman or the federal budget. Going from table to table to beg customers for money in a Pizza Hut restaurant at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E., he’s worried about a budget considerably smaller than Darman’s.

“Me and my friend, we go to different places to panhandle. He gets $5, and I get $5, and then we go to get a dime rock (of crack cocaine),” he said. “We do that about seven times a day.”

Thomas is a client of Community Connections, a non-profit agency at 1512 Pennsylvania Ave. that helps victims of chronic mental illness manage their lives.

Thomas said he gets a $422 check each month, from which the agency deducts his rent and grocery bills so he can’t use the money to buy crack.

He has held a job only once, he said, and attempted suicide three times. Because he can’t read, Thomas can plug into official Washington only when he’s around a television set. Even then he picks up the bare minimum.

“I just have to listen to find out what they’re talking about. I know they’re talking about something important, like when we had the war. A lot of people were talking about the war and everything,” he said.

“I know we were fighting over oil – and it came down to we had to have war,” Thomas continued. “I know they was sending troops over there, from here, to fight.”

Now he has to go. The Pizza Hut shift manager has spotted him and doesn’t like him bothering the customers.

“He’s just pitiful,” Gregory Campbell, 36, said of Thomas after shooing him out the door of the Pizza Hut. “We know the bad ones. We’re weeding them out, slowly and surely.”

Hard Work of Freedom

The annual State of the Union address brings the president, his Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assorted agency heads – everyone who’s anyone in official Washington – under one roof. The U.S. Capitol becomes a hall of mirrors, the powerful reflecting one another’s glory.

The president was interrupted by applause 53 times during last year’s address, according to the official transcript. An example: “We’re determined to protect another fundamental civil right – freedom from crime and the fear that stalks our cities. . . . We need tough crime-control legislation, and we need it now. (Applause).”

Campbell, a born-again Christian, is taking a stand against this drug-infested neighborhood, which he also describes as “pitiful.” He has drawn the battle line at Pizza Hut’s door. The first step was to put locks on the bathroom, where addicts such as Thomas once would go to smoke or shoot up dope.

“You’d see the blood; you’d see the needles. . . . You could smell the crack in there,” he said.

“And as we fight crime, we will fully implement our national strategy for combatting drug abuse. . . . We will not rest until the day of the dealer is over, forever. (Applause)”

Next, Campbell confronted drug dealers who came to loiter in the booths, and booted them out.

“A lot of people got the attitude, ‘Why should I risk my life? I’m not going to get involved. I’m just going to do my work and go home,’ ” Campbell said. “But we need to get involved. This is a rough situation. But it can get better, and it has gotten better.”

Now he has time to worry about whether the cucumbers and onions in his salad bar are sliced to the specified thickness of one-eighth of an inch.

“We all have something to give. So if you know how to read, find someone who can’t. If you’ve got a hammer, find a nail. If you’re not hungry, not lonely, not in trouble, seek out someone who is. Join the community of conscience. Do the hard work of freedom. And that will define the state of our Union. (Applause)”

Thomas, meanwhile, just goes about his business.

He and his buddy Howard Moody mill around a filthy, barren courtyard at the rear of Potomac Gardens. They’re waiting to buy their next rock of crack. Before going into the dealer’s apartment, they agree to pose for a photograph.

The Capitol building, swollen with applause, and the White House, at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., are just a mile or two away. But from this side of Pierre L’Enfant’s glorious grid, they are at the other end of an empire.

Sean Holton spent 25 years as an award-winning newspaper journalist. His widely-recognized work as a reporter, writer and editor focused on land development, public policy, politics and governmental issues, including nine years as a Washington DC correspondent and bureau chief for the Orlando Sentinel, and as Associate Managing Editor based in Orlando. Sean holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science from Rockhurst University.

Also by Holton: A White House Mystery

59 thoughts on “One Avenue, Two Faces: White House, Crack House”

  1. You got it Jace. The ones who don’t get it are the privileged who don’t have a clue about what it is like to try to raise a child in an environment where you hope they will return from school alive and where you bed them down in the bathtub on New Years Eve just in case a stray bullet comes through the windows at head level.

    It is cheaper to provide subsistence welfare than it is to actually do the necessary things to fix the problem so the problems become generational and entrenched. Now they are trying to cut not only the subsistence but the middle class police, fire, and social workers who try to hold a lid on the problems that no one ever actually fixes while the children continue to die. Heck they would grow up to be equally useless anyway and some CEO really needs another bonus.

  2. Craig thanks for posting this. Sean thanks for writing it.

    If conditions in D.C. are a microcosm of conditions in many of our great cities, then it stands to reason that no politician or party really has the plight of our cities at heart.

    How often do they go to cities other than Washington to announce or tout some program for the improvement of our cities? So often that it has become a mandatory photo op. for any politician.

    If they were serious about improving life in our cities they would stay in Washington and oversee some projects there.

    The names change, Clinton, Bush, Obama, but the conditions remain mostly the same. No wonder fewer and fewer people take them seriously. :cry:

  3. Maybe we should hold inaugurations at 1600 Pennsylvania AV. SE. Bet that would spruce up the neighborhood right quick. :twisted:

  4. Actually a block by block refurbish and clean up “broken windows” policy would help. Put out of work contractors to work bringing all housing up to code. Raze all crack houses or any building too run down to rehabilitate. Plant community farm areas and install mini parks on all empty lots. Bring in heavy street police walking and horse patrols near schools and parks. Don’t “gentrify” -- move families back into the redone homes. Establish group homes for children removed from drug dealing homes rather than foster “just for cash” houses. Where grandparents are raising children, provide on call nurse practitioners or helpers. Lock up the cocaine, crack and meth dealers for life (not the users -- the suppliers)

    As I said all sorts of possibilities and all of them expensive to actually turn an area around.

  5. I’m rooting for Detroit. If they can’t succeed in turning the area around, someone should tell the people to quit trying. They sure have a lot of heart invested in it.

  6. Good stories, it brings back some memories. 1992 was in the middle of the crack epidemic. Things have changed since then. Crime is lower , laws are tougher, and police are now invested in community policing not occupation tactics.
    Around that time I had 2 shoot outs in front of my house. Interesting times

    Jack

  7. Two trips to DC, thirty years apart: Lots of homeless people in Lafayette Park in 1979.

    The United Methodist Women sponsored some of us for a meeting on global hunger. A man from Kenya (Osano Kenya-ri-ri, as I recall his name) was the one who was supposed to make the impression on us.

    Seeing all of the homeless men across the street from the WH made more of an impression. How could this happen here?

    Lots of poor families in the midwest and I was from one of them. We had hot water & an indoor toilet for all of 5 months, but still no insulation in the rest of the house; there was ice on the walls in the winter. But we had a leaky roof, food (much of which we grew), jobs and virtually no crime.

    In a small town, everybody knows everyone & everything. It keeps folks on the straight-and-narrow. That’s why I think class size isn’t the problem with education. There are schools bigger than my entire town, which makes them difficult to manage.

    Fast-forward to 2009 & I only saw two homeless men between the WH & the Hill. They’ve done a makeover on the neighborhood for the sake of the tourists, most likely.

    Downtown Dallas is still a sad, scary place because there isn’t much tourism.

    I guess people only care when someone else is looking. That’s why they are trying to shut down the Occupy movement; it’s too big and too widespread to sweep it out of view.

    Also enjoyed Lard’s Extreme Makeover: White House Edition (interior)

    boo From blue -- Happy Hallowe’en

  8. Jamie,
    Thankfully for the rest of the country, very religious whites are no where near the majority.

    Hard to remain viable when your base consists of the majority of a minority and Fox viewers. ;-)

  9. Good writing, Sean. Unfortunately, this has been going on since the beginning of time. The more severe the economic downturn, more neighborhoods in decline. Modern day ghettos. Even in middle class neighborhoods, meth labs are your neighbors! You can tell by the rusted, paint peeling mailboxes in the hood. I fear it is going to get worse, than better.

  10. The republican party used to tout themselves as the party of ideas. (Mostly bad ones.)

    Now they are just the party of gun toters, bible bangers, and crooked CEOs.

    To their credit, at least they have given up the charade.

  11. This morning, Faux News had the moral compass of America, Donald Trump, commenting on Herman Cain’s sexual harassment.

    Drop the pimp hat, Herman! (My comment, not the trumpster’s.)

  12. After much searching, I found the perfect pumpkin, which is now the perfect jack-o-lantern. Even roasted the seeds, and bought a good harvest ale. All is set for the evening. Happy Halloween all! :smile:

    Off to mine some salt.

  13. As soon as gas rationing was lifted and my dad was able to get a new company car, we hooked-up the travel trailer and headed to Florida. I was six at the time. I remember because I took a month off from 1st grade. That would make it ’47.

    I remember much of the trip. The abject poverty of the native Americans in their treaty lands aka swamps. The side-by-side drinking fountains that I challenged. DC being a veritable ghost town. We had a space in a trailer park with a beautiful view of the Jefferson Memorial.

    We went to Mt Vernon, Monticello, Arlington, the Smithsonian and the Washington Monument which I took the stairs down.

    And, we visited Lincoln in his memorial where he could have been Jehovah, posed as he was.

    We, of course, went through the Capitol. Congress was not in session because Easter was coming up the following weekend.

    We returned to Cleveland in time for a respectful Easter celebration.

  14. Got this cool message from a media colleague:

    “The Sean Holton stories you run are just incredible. Incredible because they display Sean’s amazing talent (does anyone write anymore with such precision, eye, and patience?), incredible because they are two decades old and instruct us like an anthropology course in a long-ago place called Washington DC (Peter Bug! Crack!), and finally, incredible because the ultimate question is: did newspapers ever allow anyone to spend time thinking, researching, and writing up these kind of stories? Talk about a relic of an ancient past… Who writes these brilliant stories today?”

  15. Last Thursday Stinky and I went to the Ft Jackson Commissary to purchase our Hallowe’en Cracker Jack. It’s the only place that I know that I can find it in the old fashioned box. Mission accomplished.

    But, while we there I walked through the meat department and spotted one of those roll-around refrigerated cabinets used to display on-sale meat items. This particular cabinet was plastered with Hebrew National Kosher hot-dog placards.

    I walked over to the cabinet, peered inside, and saw that the product contained in it was pork loins.

    I’ll put this in the context of Ft Jackson being home of the Armed Forces Chaplains Center and School where every chaplain for all the services is trained. Surely someone from that establishment must have seen that grossly insensitive display.

    In any case, this Simple Buddhist had the commissary manager paged and I dragged him by his ear to where the offensive display was located.

    It took him only a millisecond to recognize the problem and he personally became part of the solution.

    In my own mind, despite the manager’s prompt actions, I have concerns as to whether I should let the matter drop.

  16. You go Flatus….

    And my my Herman Cain more like Clarence Thomas every day
    And he should keep the pimp hat — apparently it fits

  17. I believe America is capable electing Herman Cain president and having many deep regrets later.

    But for the 1% his mistakes will only be helpful. I think he would spy on and use violence against American citizens

    I think he would end any public
    policy efforts to make our food system better and safer.

    I think he would end public participation in medical care
    I think he a big giant a--h—

  18. KGC — Don’t forget the “Lectric fence!” Herman would probably sell the ‘fried meat’ to a fast food outlet.

  19. If we want to guarantee an American uprising the best way would be to elect Cain

    KGC — Don’t forget the “Lectric fence!” Herman would probably sell the ‘fried meat’ to a fast food outlet

    . BW…Taco Bell no doubt

  20. Craig

    For me, it was the inclusiveness of the article from the neighborhood activist to the worried home owners to the business owners to the crack heads. It totally caught the flavor of such a neighborhood. As I was reading it I was saying to myself “I know all those people”.

    Most articles about my neighborhood don’t talk to all those people, they talk to an activist, to Officer Friendly the police spokes critter, and maybe to a business owner that is more outsider than neighborhood.
    But Sean dug deeper and didn’t look down on the people even the crackhead beggar.
    Really good stuff.

    Jack

  21. And this why the Occupy Wall Street Movement will carry on

    NYT: Top NY Foreclosure Law Firm Threw Homeless-Themed Halloween Party
    tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com

  22. Clarence Thomas is Herman Cain’s most admired Supreme Court Justice…heard him say that recently, and nearly threw up. How do these people get serious play in this country…hell, in our media???

    Cain is a Koch-funded piece of danger!

  23. The 1% are at it, again. Anti-donkey (Dem), pro-fence and lots of money.

    “…Texas park rangers are trying to wipe out hundreds of free-roaming donkeys…

    “The state’s stance: wild donkeys wandering over from Mexico simply don’t belong.”

    “Skeptics suspect the state’s stance is all a wink to wealthy and well-connected hunters. Coveted state permits to bag bighorns fetch upward of $100,000 at auction in Texas…”

    http://news.yahoo.com/texas-shooting-donkeys-stirring-burro-backlash-070230723.html

  24. Watching Cain at the Press Club shows how pathetic of a candidate he is…no wonder he is doing so well with the republican base.

    ‘Nuff said’

  25. Forgive me Craig, it’s Halloween and I want to have some fun…Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries are divorcing after having a 10 million dollar wedding seventy-two days ago. Sort of reminds me of the end of the 1980’s and the Bonfire of the Vanities. The decade of glitz and I remember reading that the Trump divorce signaled the end to the opulence Tom Wolfe so aptly described.

    http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20116915,00.html

    The new Bonfire of the Vanities.

  26. BW

    They made seven million dollars on the wedding --not bad for 72 days work

  27. From the article on the trumps

    In a decade of glitz, they were the glitziest; in a decade of greed, they were the greediest:

  28. Maybe we should just have a “wretched excess” contest each month. We could pair it up with a sort of saints and sinners awards.

    Eligible for the awards would be all those people with a huge amount of money and how they use it.

  29. Jamie, thanks for the link…Atlanta, greediest (most unequal) city…birthplace of CNN.

  30. CNN pushing Cain…quoting he runs a ‘quality campaign’…is this for Gloria or the Atlanta greedy?

  31. I’m baaaaaaack….

    We got 2 feet of snow… fortunately it was mostly light and fluffy. We lost power late Saturday night and got it back a couple hours ago. The main problem was to the east of us where the snow was wet and heavy… and there was several hours of an ice storm. Fallen trees crashed the grid and it took our power with it.

    Our largest city, Manchester, is still mostly without power and has canceled Halloween until next weekend.

    God played a trick on us…. but I thank her for inventing generators… :smile:

  32. Glad to hear you are back with power. 2 feet of snow! Did you lose any trees? I remember you had lost a lot a few years before.

  33. Herman Cain definitely not ready for prime time

    Cain’s verbal gymnastics explaining the sexual harassment charges are amazing. And one has to wonder. He has given conflicting statements about what he knew and when he knew it.
    And really how could he not know the settlement details.

    Just another Lyle Republican.

  34. Support for Affordable Care Act Hits New Low
    By: Jon Walker

    I still think by far the biggest problem for the law is that it hasn’t really done anything to help people yet. If some or all of the coverage expansion had kicked in already,, there would at least be a reason for people to re-examine their opinions about the law. Instead, we had the Democrats give the impression they took care of the uninsured problem, and after two years there are more uninsured than when the law passed. The Democrats’ decision to delay the start of the coverage expansion until 2014 is by far one of the worst and totally avoidable mistakes ever made by a political party.

  35. The biggest mistake the democrats made was electing insurance companies to run our health care. Single payer…the way it should have been from the beginning. Whether intended or not, the insurance companies have raked in huge profits during this time.

    http://www.healthinsurance.org/blog/2010/11/15/insurance-company-profits-up-41-percent/

    I finally went to see my doctor for the first time in four years (she was out of network with my former insurance). My current insurance allows 3 visits a year…I need a pelvic scan and my doctor advised me to shop imaging facilities (there are two in my town). When I went to the front desk desk for the referral for the scan, staff said they would make the appointment. I told them I was shopping for out-of-pocket costs for the scan…the staff told me IF I did so, I was committing fraud because I had insurance. I told them the doctor told me to shop. I got the prescription from them, I have not scheduled the test. Gosh…threatened with fraud and debt…sure creating a lot of stress.

  36. It is absurd that a CEO sits atop a health insurance company and collects profit on illness…no risk for the CEO, there! And everyday we are told the Europeans are going to take down the American economy IF they do not get their debt in proper order. Ironically, they Europeans have health care, not health attempt like the average American has in this country. How many Europeans declare bankruptcy for health care? Sickening, literally.

  37. BW,
    I agree! After what my mom went through during her 3 year cancer battle, SHAMEFUL! Blue Cross SUCKS and is immoral! After a year battling with an attorney to get them to pay they forced my mom into bankruptcy..My Mom had insurance her whole life. Yep, when it came time to pay, sorry we don’t pay for injections, the charge is not cancer coded properly and a list of other reasons.They force the estate to pay by the hospitals attaching a lien on her house or assets..This was GM Blue Cross. I have it as well, doesn’t inspire confidence should i get sick..

  38. Insurance coding…recent Kaplan College graduates running your life.

    The story about your Mom sickens me. How stressful for you and your family.

    Makes no sense to profit off of illness…really the odds are against you and for the insurance ‘house.’ I have engaged in conversations with Libertarians who tell me what is the answer? I tell them to pay the providers directly and not through a third party who profits on the whole transaction. Privatization, my ass! Without government intervention, we are screwed.

  39. BW,
    Yep, it was terrible! I had to take my mom to bankruptcy court in Jacksonville,Florida..Blue Cross and the Hospitals have lots of attorneys, judge even said it was shameful! A sick lady a year then from death.. Yep, the good old USA, there’s so much profit to be made off sickness..

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