In re: "Oak Lawn doctor fighting Blue Cross for payments," Dallas Voice, March 19.
My personal experience as a patient of Dr. Nick Bellos has covered a span of almost 20 years (since 1991). The compassion and care Dr. Bellos has demonstrated in this time far surpasses any other health care professional I have been associated with.
Thankfully, I have not had to deal with Blue Cross/Blue Shield since I am insured through my former employer’s group health plan. But I know of BC/BS customers who have experienced similar problems with other health care professionals as those described by Dr. Bellos.
There is simply no excuse for the vitriol displayed by certain online commenters against Dr. Bellos. How can Dr. Bellos be described as a "greedy doctor" when he himself has not drawn a salary for the past three years? This act of selflessness is incongruous with greed.
In the normal course of operating a business, any doctor is obligated to bill a patient for services not covered by their insurance. This is not a new concept in the world of medical practices.
Dr. Bellos is not trying to negotiate a more lucrative reimbursement contract with BC/BS. He is simply attempting to collect the monies that are owed him.
He acknowledges in the article that the 2009 reimbursement contract with BC/BS was not properly reviewed by his staff. That does not mean that BS/BC has a free pass to withhold payments for claims which are properly and reasonably submitted.
I personally know of patients without insurance who have received care from Dr. Bellos. He has charged them a small co-payment only for his professional services. Does this sound like greed? I think not.
I could go on for pages about the compassion of Dr. Bellos for his patients but will close for now and hope everyone sees this story as a cautionary tale about the unbridled power and greed of insurance companies and their obscene profits.
Waiting on Hutchison
Last week I travelled to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress in an effort to move forward HR1283 and S3065, the bills that will bring an end to the military’s anti-gay "Don’t ask, don’t tell" policy.
As we often do, we set appointments on our own, hoping to meet with our representatives or senators one-on-one and attend other meetings with representatives from other states. This year, an appointment was made by the staff of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office to meet with a member of her staff.
I am a constituent of Sen. Hutchison from Houston and was accompanied by two of her other constituents from Dallas and Fort Worth. We had with us a recently retired (straight) Army major general and three casualties of DADT.
We arrived early, as good military people often do, and were told that our appointment was not on the calendar and that the staffer was out of the office in a meeting. We were politely asked to wait for his return.
After we waited half an hour, the time for another appointment we had set drew near. So, our team split, and I remained, with two others, waiting for the reappearance of the missing staffer.
We stood patiently waiting in the reception area. After another hour or so, another group arrived for their meeting. The staffer came in, asked the clerk if his last appointment was there and disappeared into the office with the other group.
I asked the clerk, "What about us?" And he replied, "Oh, I forgot you were there."
Despite the fact that we were no more than five feet from the clerk for an hour-and-a-half, we were forgotten by him and Sen. Hutchison’s staff.
I do not intend to be forgotten again!
This scenario was painfully reminiscent of several years ago when Sen. Hutchison parked three flag officers in the hallway and refused to meet with them.
I spent the remainder of the day with a significant burr in my saddle over being forgotten. The only thing that salved it was that two of us dropped by Rep. Charlie Gonzalez’s office, without an appointment, and were graciously welcomed by him.
We spent about 20 minutes with Rep. Gonzalez and his senior staff. I felt at home in his office.
I believe the difference is simply this: Rep. Gonzalez studied the DADT issue for several years before finally becoming a co-sponsor of repeal efforts and joining our battle. Sen. Hutchison, on the other hand, spent the same years avoiding contact and avoiding listening to our reasoning.
I served my nation proudly and my only desire is to return and continue my service. I have contacted Sen. Hutchison’s office requesting yet another meeting — not with staff, but with her.
Perhaps DADT will be repealed before I must make another trip to D.C., but if not, I hope I am represented in the Senate by someone who will at least listen for a few brief moments to constituents — even if our words are not unto their personal liking.
My service and my vote matter!
Tommy Cook is the named plaintif in SLDN’s Cook v. Rumsfeld ( re-captioned Cook v. Gates ) suit on behalf of the casualties of DADT.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 26, 2010.