Posts tagged ‘huster’

My Father’s Story

1967

I was born on April 17, 1930 on a sugar plantage at Gujangan in Indonesia, formerly the Dutch East Indies.

Grandpa was German; he joined the Dutch army to Indonesia.  Dad was naturalized Dutch and mom became Dutch by marriage.  So we children were automatically Dutch.  I became a US citizen in 1962.

I was approximately 3 years old when we moved to a sugar plantage named Redjosarie, located about 20 miles South of Madiun, a provincial capital of East Java.

Our family then consisted of 6 members, mom, dad, my oldest sister who was adopted, 2 older brothers and myself.  In 1934 my younger brother was born and in 1939 my parents adopted a baby girl.

To my knowledge, we were getting along real fine.  Dad was assistant supervisor of the machinery and locomotive department and common in those colonial days, we too had our servants, a cook, a maid, a gardener and at one time even a chauffeur.  Until our 5th year of age each one of us children had somebody to look after us, they were usually one of the servants’ older children and for them, this was a part time job.  Mom did not have to work and usually gave the servants their daily orders and spent time on her hobbies, sewing, batik (An Indonesian art, on an approximately 6’x4′ linen cloth, figures are drawn on with melted beeswax.  This linen is then dipped in different colors dye. And after every dip, after the cloth was dry, certain parts of the wax were scraped off.) And she also played Chinese card games, according to what I heard and saw of the pennies (which she often divided among us) and the chickens, she won, she was very good at this.  She also spent much time with us.  We have had a wonderful youth life, much of which we spent outdoors in the never-ending summer like climate, leading a life described in the Tom Sawyer stories.  We fished, swam and played in the river, creek and canals, flew and fought kites (we glued powdered glass on the string and tried to cut each others line).  The frames were made out of bamboo.  A sling shot was always dangling from our neck, there was no law against it and bird hunting season was always open, but we were only allowed to shoot the edible ones and had to eat those we bagged.  We did cock fighting sometimes or watched it.  Cock fighting was mostly done by the Indonesians.  We children hunted or bought crickets which sometimes were 1 1/2 inch long and fought them against each other.  Dad did much hunting and he sometimes brought home a wild boars piggy or a baby deer or wild chickens which we tried to raise.

So we had pets all over the yard, 2 mynah birds and several others.  My oldest brother and dad kept about 10 aquariums of tropical fish.  Dad’s hobby was, he thought, raising roses and orchids, but mom had the green thumb and she was keeping an eye on them.  Some of them were beautiful.  My second brother had a pet goat mom won with her card games.  My oldest sister did much tailoring and batik, she even taught me knitting with knit racks, embroidering and some sewing.  I did some outdoor cooking and although it sometimes did not taste good mom often made it taste better and tried some afterwards.  Dad gave me carpenter tools and helped me with my projects and he also supervised me with my little garden.  When my youngest brother was little, he was either running after a chicken or had one in his hands.  He later on got a dog and at one time tried to teach it to smoke.  Yet mom and dad were very strict, there was no rough talk or abusive language at home, we had to respect older people, even if we were right, we still had to respect them for their age.  There was no difference between my sisters and us.  It was not allowed to accept gifts, from anybody but a member of the family not even a cookie or a candy. Especially since the factory and field workers were making less than dad, we could not accept anything from them, and I surely felt it when I accepted a piece of chicken my friend gave me which he got from one of those workers.  Although there were always exceptions.  Since with 4 boys in the house, there was always some fighting and arguing, to keep the peace, mom used a 6 ft. whip which at that time, to me, always appeared in her hand from nowhere.

At home, we never had birthday parties with friends or birthday presents.  We could select our gifts after we passed our finals at school; the gifts were according to the grades we made.

 Mom and dad were generous with this and it made us work harder at school.  Once a week we went to town to do our shopping and there was always money left for a small gift for each of us, so missing our birthday did not bother us at all.

Christmas was celebrated in a religious way, St. Niklaas was celebrated on the 5th or 6th of December, like Santa Claus, and the New Years were celebrated in a big way, all 3 of them, namely the Christian, Buddhist and Mohammedan new years.

Moms dad who was widower was staying with us until he passed away in 1934 we all loved him; he was always ready to make us toys and to play with us.

We went to school in Madiun and traveled the distance by school bus.  I started kindergarten at the age of 4 and had to break off my schooling because of the war when I was in the 6th grade.  It was a government school but we were also taught religion once a week and the children could take or skip this hour which those of different religions did.  We have always been to school with children of other nations or races.  The education was taught in Dutch and we also spoke Dutch at home with each other and Indonesian with the Indonesians.

When in 1941 the war with Japan started, my father was called up for duty and only my two older brothers have seen him back since, when he was in the concentration camp.  My oldest sister then was married and lived in Surabaje and my 2 brothers were in Djakarta where the oldest went to a trade school and the second to a high school.  During the Japanese invasion, many families had to leave the plantage for their safety.  We stayed with an Indonesian family until the Jap. allowed us to return.  Meanwhile many of the families lost their possessions to the Indonesian and Jap looters and many houses were ransacked.  The items people could not carry were shattered.  We ourselves were a little more fortunate that we have always had a good relationship with the Indonesians; once a week dad use to have his crew bosses (Indonesians) over at our house for a meeting and gave them a meal afterwards, which was more or less a custom and a hospitality and these men tried to save some of our belongings yet we have still lost plenty.  Until we returned to the plantage we stayed with an Indonesian family.

When the Japs were in control, we were allowed to return to the plantage.  Because of his asthma, my 2nd brother came home we could not afford any help and so were required to do the chores ourselves.  Being the healthiest, I kept the house clean and did the family laundry by hand every day and also did the ironing with those coal filled irons.  None of the nice flowers or animals were left, I do not know, what happened with them.  But I started to raise chickens for our own use.  There were no schools to go to but one of the ladies, a teacher tutored us a few hours a day. Meanwhile, there was no income and we were living from mams valuables which she sold a little at a time.  And a little business of small items mam was doing.  The chickens we kept were those mom won with card games which then she did to make a living also, although she shared much of her gains with a family which lost all but the cloths they took along when they left the plantage. There was no mail service so all mom and the other ladies could do was worrying about the husbands.

In 1942, the Jap. ordered all the ladies without a husband off the plantage.  Fortunate for us my sister’s in laws lived in Ngawi, so we loaded everything on ox wagons and left for this place.  It took 24 hours to get there.  Also fortunate was that mom and dad invested very much money in jewelry which at one time when we where still living on the plantage, mom had approximate a value of $4000.00 sewed in a strap of cloth and wrapped around my waist to take to my sister’s in laws to be put away.  I was just 11 yrs. old and had to travel those 20 miles by bicycle on the way up I had to pass an airfield guarded by Japs.  Every passerby had to bow for the guards.  I do not remember how many times I bowed and I surely hurried along that stretched of road.  The Japs were known to do anything which came up in their minds to passersby and could not take any chances, because besides the jewelry, the bicycle I rode was borrowed.  Furthermore, that area had always been known for people friendly during the daytime robbers by night.  On my way back, I took a 20 mile reroute to miss that airfield.  When we were in Ngawi, mom sold some of the jewelry to buy ourselves a house.

Meanwhile, dad and my uncles were in a concentration camp in Bandung and to be near him grandma (dad’s mother) and my oldest brother Ludwig and my 2nd brother Johann (short Jan) had moved to that city, when we were still at the plantage.  It was because of the dampness of this city that Jan became very ill of his asthma, that we all though he would not make it.

In Ngawi his health improved.  Also mam stopped her card games and after we were better acquainted with the place mam started doing business.  We bought bulk food outside the city which I carried to the market to be sold.  Mom did most of the transactions I took care of the heavy items and my brother because of his condition took care of the lighter ones.  At one time because of the scarcity of clothing mom managed to exchange 2 pieces of batikked cloth with a small house of one of the Indonesian society families.  Mam sold the house right away.  For a fee, I also worked in people yards, picked coconuts and cleaned the crown of these trees, from squirrel nests and insects.  Jan and I also peddled meat, for which we had to walk miles to get it and then more miles to sell it.  Once we even had to walk a total of 60 miles back and forth to get the meat. Meanwhile, the food situation was getting worse in places and we heard where people had to eat things they ordinary would not think about.  Rice, formerly the national diet was scarce.  We ate a mixture of rice and dried cassava and corn meal.  For the Dutch people, the situation grew worse all the time, everyday we could hear the Japs on their motor bikes rounding up people they so called suspected from underground action against them.  They were then either put in a labor camp or in jail.  We heard about the ways they were tortured.  The Japs were then only taking men from 18 yrs on up and especially those who where staying home or were home at the time they came around.  After a while they were moving down the,”to be picked up age.”  All this added more worries to mom and she kept us on the road all the time and put my youngest brother Adolf on an Indonesian school.  We knew that one day our turn would come.  Being away from home, we missed one pick up, but they left the message better to be home at a certain date.  The Dutch ladies and children were at that time required to work in the rice fields or clean the road sides a few times a week.  In June 1945 the Japs finally came around to pick us up, my brother had a asthma attack at that time so I went by myself to a labor camp approximately 30 miles away where we were required to do agricultural work.  We ate from our own crops so the food was not too bad and were so better off than so many others.  We did not hear about the peace until 1 month after it.  The Jap guard had left and they did not tell the Indonesians anything. Anyway after they let us free, we walked part of the way and rode the train part of the way home. The Indonesians were mean while revolting against the Dutch government.  I was home about 1 month when they picked up my brother and myself and put us in the city jail which was then used as a concentration camp.  My youngest brother, then 11 years old and my little sister 6 were put in a different camp by them self and they left mom outside.  So for months once a week, if she could not get a ride, mom had to walk the distance of a few miles with a basket of food on her back to see the 2 youngest and to bring them some additional food until she managed to get them out to stay with her.  In this camp we were fed a handful of cooked rice, 3 times a day sometimes with vegetable soup made out of not quite cleaned vegetables, pieces of grass, bugs, snails etc. were still floating around and sometimes there was nothing else to eat but starch.  The few valuables the people had on them were exchanged for additional food which was so called “smuggled” in the human waste-barrels after they were emptied in the river and rinsed out. Since medicines were scarce, many people died from diseases.  When the conditions were very bad, we were allowed to receive some food from the outside and so we saw mom occasionally and it was also then that mom received a card from the Red Cross that on June 1944 the ship dad was being transported on to Japan as a prisoner of war, was hit by a torpedo near Nagasaki and that dad was among the missing, after the war, mom received a notification of his death.  On July 1946 we were moved to the camp my little brother and sister where originally in and mom was allowed to visit us once a month.  In January 1947 we were evacuated to Djakarta, I then went to Bandung and my brother Jan went to Surabaja.  Mam had to stay behind since she was not in the camp.

In Bandung I stayed with relatives and I finally could continue my schools.  The last grades of the elementary schools I had to finish in half the normal time and hereafter went to high school. Being a minor, I received social security, but for my school expenses, clothing and spending money, I delivered bread after school hours.  Since at that time the Dutch army only occupied part of Java, I did not hear anything from mam and the youngest children until 1949 when the Dutch forces occupied the whole island and my youngest brother suddenly appeared.  One day, I was delivering bread by bicycle when a passenger passing in a buggy called my name.  Not recognizing him I only said hi!  When I stopped by my next customer, I heard that the same person had asked for directions to our house.  I then turned around and went after the buggy and found out that it was my youngest brother.  He was in a bad shape of lack of food and we then needed money real bad to put him back in shape.  My parents never mentioned to me about having started a savings account for each one of us when we were little, but after my brothers’ arrival, we received word from the Dutch National Bank that certain sums of money were waiting for us.

My brother told me about the bad times they had, also that at one time he was rounded up by the Indonesian communists to watch them torturing and butchering one of the prominent non communistic Indonesians, who we knew real well and he was the only one who when we starved in jail twice treated all us prisoners of war to good food.

In February 1950 I joined the Royal Netherlands Navy for 6 years.  During the medical examinations in Surabaja I finally saw mam, Jan; and my youngest sister Fanny back again.  I stayed with them 10 days.  In April that year I left for Holland.  While in the navy I visited England, Scotland, Norway, Denmark, France, Spain, Malta and Italy.  The navy time was not always enjoyable especially having chronical seasick, but I tried to make the most of it.  The highest rank I could reach without re enlisting was that of seaman 1st class and also obtained certificates of radar navigator and plotter.  I have also sailed on several types of ships, gunboat, torpedo boat, light cruiser, landing craft, and aircraft carrier.  Several times I have tried to study by correspondence course, but had to break it off every time because of the many transfers.  Just before my discharge I started a correspondence course of surveying.  After my discharge I got a job as a draftsman and survey help with the Ministry of Public Works in Delft.  Meanwhile I received word that 2 of my brothers have left for New Guinea, my oldest sister stayed in Surabaja, Jan went back to the sugar plantage and mom and Fanny went back to Ngawi.

In November of 1956 I emigrated to the U.S.A. under the sponsor ship of the World Church Service.  Because of the overpopulation and my 6 years of service, the Dutch government paid part of the boat fare, medical and life insurance for 3 months and I was also handed $45.00 spending money.  In Ft. Wayne, the only job I could find after about 12 days of job hunting was that of bus boy at Hotel Van Orman, for 50 cents/hour and a free meal.  I was fortunate that the high school I went to had 5 languages as required subjects and English was one of them, I under stood the written English better than the spoken American language.  In January of 1957 I started with Shirmeyer as a part time draftsman and in February of that same year, I started to work for the Ind. & Mich. El. Co. as draftsman.

One day in 1959 a Dutch friend who just lived here for a few months asked me to pick up their relatives at the Nickel Plate Railroad station since they did not know their way around and had trouble expressing themselves.  This was how I got acquainted with my wife.  We found out that in Holland we once lived in the same addition, Overschie but never met each other.  In March 1960 we were married in the Gospel Temple and lived at 456 W. William’s St.  In 1961 we moved to our present address.

As a last remark I like to mention that we children have gone through bad times but I would not know how to call this for mom who has gone through worse has given us all she had and even after we offered her to come along to Holland were my other 3 brothers are rather stayed with my younger sister who last all her papers and birth certificate and could not prove that mom and dad adopted her, even the files in the city of Madiun were burned during the war and so she could not leave Indonesia.  Mam often let us know that she did not want any support and that her only wishes were that her children would grow up to worthy people and that those who left home would drop her a letter once a while.

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Family History, Introduction

This is my family history. My family is Dutch-Indonesian (Indo), and their history shouldn’t be forgotten.

Much has been written of the Japanese-Americans in American interment camps, with a lot of restitution paid to the survivors and families of these survivors. But they were treated lavishly well by comparison the Japanese concentration camps established in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). There, prisoners were abused, tortured, and killed. Some were enslaved to build the “Death Railroad.” Roughly 10% died in the concentration camps by murder, malnutrition or diseases.

From the book, The Defining Years of the Dutch East Indies, 1942-1949: Survivors Accounts of Japanese Invasion and Enslavement of Europeans and the Revolution That Created Free Indonesia, “Very little is known in the United States about what actually transpired in this particular part of the world during World War II and the period immediately after. One Dutch observer noted, ‘It is unconscionable to allow future generations to forget what happened in the Indies, just as it is folly to turn our backs on the holocaust in Europe.’ What happened during the Pacific War is fading fast from our collective memory. Many of the younger generations know little, if anything at all, of its consequences. The passage of time also tends to obscure the reality of war and its consequences, and that should not be.”

“One of the various ethnic groups which suffered from this decolonization conflict was the Dutch-Indonesians, or Indos, a sizable segment of the population. They were descendants from Dutch as well as native individuals. And it was this group which was afforded the choice to stay out of the internment camps if they cooperated with the Japanese. Very few took advantage of this option. The overwhelming majority joined their Dutch compatriots who were already interned. And those who stayed outside often suffered as miserably as those on the inside of the concentration camps.”

My family was one of the ones who chose, or were chosen, to be interned. I can say with pride that my family, both sides, did not cooperate with the Japanese.

After the war, the Japanese camps became Indonesian camps, with the Indonesians taking control of them. My parents related to me how it wasn’t until some time had passed, before they were finally released from the now Indonesian camps.

In 1967, my father sat down and wrote brief autobiographical accounts of both his and my mother’s. What follows are their stories. I’ve typed them the way they were written, misspellings, grammatical errors, and all. Many places were renamed after the Indonesian independence, and many old names no longer appear on current maps. And there are not often references to the now politically correct Japanese. They were referred to as “Japs,” in that place, in that time, as they referred to themselves that way as well.

No website remains forever, but as long as this one does, I want this history remembered.

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Affaire du coeur, Epilogue

Having opened the can of worms, Regence spent the next year getting it’s butt kicked in the press. The Insurance Commissioner also began using it as a political platform. Here’s a sampling of the articles that were published during that year.

Senn Battles Insurers On Er Coverage — She Faults 4 Major Carriers For Denying Claims Under Law
Tuesday, March 02, 1999 : Business
State Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn is waging a battle against health-insurance companies that she says illegally deny coverage of emergency-room visits. Senn wants the …

Insurance Carriers Criticized For Suit
Saturday, March 06, 1999 : Local News
What this is really about is, the carriers are angry. And they’re angry because they got caught.” Senn said Tuesday the state’s four largest health-care carriers should have approved …

Regence Blueshield CEO Tops List Of Best-Paid Health-Insurance Execs
Thursday, April 15, 1999 : Business
Deborah Senn’s annual list of executive salaries in the industry. His compensation represents a 20 percent pay raise over his 1997 earnings. Not far behind Dean was Premera Chief …

Nice Work If You Can Get It
Monday, April 19, 1999 : Business
Last week, the state Insurance Commissioner’s Office reported that Regence BlueShield Chief Executive Officer Richard Nelson made $386,003 in 1998, not including bonuses. That’s …

Regence Blueshield To Drop Plan Used By State Workers
Thursday, July 22, 1999 : Business
SEATTLE – Regence BlueShield has decided to stop selling one of its health plans to state employees and retirees. The company says its modified Selections plan has lost $32 million …

2 Big Insurers Stop Selling To Individuals — Group Health, Regence Opt Out
Wednesday, September 01, 1999 : Business
Chris Bruzzo, a spokesman for Regence BlueShield. “It becomes a statewide health-care problem.” Insurers losing money And this is why: In 1993, state lawmakers passed sweeping …

Regence’s Rate Filings May Have Violated Law, Senn Contends
Friday, October 15, 1999 : Business
Senn denied a Regence request to raise rates 28.1 percent for 55,000 people who buy health insurance individually, not through employers. At the time, Regence officials said they would…

Insurer Regence Denies It Manipulated System
Saturday, October 16, 1999 : Business
Regence asked four times for a 28.1 percent increase in rates paid by 55,000 people who buy health insurance individually, not through employers. Senn eventually agreed to a 25.8 percent…

Surgeons Dropping Regence; Patients Are Casualty In Fray With State’s Largest Insurer
Tuesday, December 21, 1999 : Business
Regence BlueShield, the state’s largest health plan. Regence covers about one in five people in Washington. The surgeons canceling contracts say that for certain procedures, they are…
The Insurance Commissioner used the story as a political platform…

Senn touts personal touch in her campaign for Senate
Sunday, August 20, 2000 : Business
Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, she leads an army of the sick and injured on the campaign trail – living testimony of her self-portrayal as a consumer advocate. There is Victoria …

Candidates aim at Gorton
Monday, September 11, 2000 : Business
Questions in the first televised debate between Democratic Senate candidates Deborah Senn and Maria Cantwell last night may have been about dams, farms and campaign finances, but Sen…

‘Concierge physicians’ medical model growing
Friday, May 28, 2004 : Local News
Seattle doctor, sounds like “something small and fluffy, for rich people.” Whatever it’s called, more and more doctors are charging patients retainer fees, allowing the doctors to see…

Senn’s past battles shape campaign for attorney general
Tuesday, October 26, 2004 : Local News
Deborah Senn’s bid to become Washington’s attorney general has morphed into something of an anti-campaign. Instead of offering the usual litany of groups who support her, the Democratic…

Paramount Pictures was briefly interested in doing a movie about our story.

Tory became something of an health care reform activist after the wedding…

A PATIENT SPEAKS OUT ON MEDICAL RIGHTS BILL.(News)
Subscription – Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Seattle, WA) – HighBeam Research – Feb 12, 1999
Also testifying at the Senate committee hearing was Victoria Doyle, a heart transplant recipient who recently won a battle with her insurance company, …

DEMOCRATS TRYING AGAIN TO GIVE PATIENTS MORE CONTROL OVER …
Subscription – The Columbian – HighBeam Research – Feb 12, 1999
Victoria Doyle, a heart-transplant patient from Tacoma, said she has had to fight for life-supporting medication since her 1991 operation. …

HMOs Go Under The Knife: America has perhaps the world’s best …
Subscription – Newsweek – HighBeam Research – Nov 8, 1999
Victoria Doyle, 42, who lives in Tacoma, Wash., describes herself as “a nightmare for the insurance industry.” Ever since her heart transplant in 1991, …

SENN BACKS DRIVE FOR PATIENT RIGHTS HEARINGS BEGIN NEXT WEEK ON …
$2.95 – Spokane Spokesman-Review – NewsBank – Jan 7, 2000
Senn and Schual-Berke were joined by heart transplant patient Victoria Doyle of Seattle, who lost insurance coverage for the drugs that keep her body from …

HOUSE OKS HEALTH BILL TO LURE INSURERS BACK BUT CONSUMERS MAY PAY …
$2.95 – Spokane Spokesman-Review – NewsBank – Mar 4, 2000
“Frightening,” said Victoria Doyle of Tacoma, a heart-transplant patient who has been following the individual insurance debate. …

Senn brings Senate bid to town
$2.95 – Bellingham Herald – NewsBank – Jun 25, 2000
On Saturday, Victoria Doyle of Brown’s Point in Pierce County and Dylan and Christine Malone of Everett came to Bellingham to try and convince those at a …

Tory’s efforts contributed to the Washington State Patient Bill of Rights.

Health Insurance – Patients’ Bill of Rights Protects Consumers
The Patients Bill of Rights for Washington (SB6199) passed the legislature with … Victoria Doyle of Tacoma is a heart transplant survivor who was abruptly …

To this day she continues to lobby on health care reform and insurance issues. Tory even briefly appeared on campaign commercial when Deborah Senn unsuccessfully ran for Washington state Attorney General. Tory’s part is when she says, “Thanks to Deborah Senn, I got the heart medication I need.”

I don’t think Regence ever knew that I started our little David and Goliath war. My involvement was quietly drowned out by all the noise, something I’m very happy with. This is the first time I’ve ever documented everything that happened.

The story still hasn’t ended, not really. We, amazingly, are entering into our seventh year of marriage.

We all face challenges in our lives. I guess the message here is don’t give up the good fight. “Something wonderful  (can come) from something terrible.”

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Affaire du coeur, Part 6

So here we were. Plan B no longer necessary 3 days in the nick of time. But our time in combat with Regence formed a bond of more than friendship. I mean, we had been fully prepared to get married. Somehow, we had fallen in love during the ordeal of the previous two months.

We decided to make a go of it. I put in for a transfer, and we began jetting back and forth to Seattle to be together. Our relationship blossomed, and we talked about making the marriage real. I began shipping my belongings to Seattle.

My transfer finally came through in mid-November, and I raced a storm across the country, and eventually the Cascades, with two cats and what remained of my belongings in tow. At one point, one of my cats decided to help steer, which is a more terrifying thing than I can easily describe.

And the Cascades were no picnic from a flatlander Hoosier. Holy cow, these mountains were huge, with writhing roads, and places for runaway trucks to try and stop. My Jimmy coughed and sputtered over the peaks, and ran wild down the other side of the mountains.

I arrived in the morning at the bookstore Tory worked part-time in, at the same time Tory was arriving for work. She hadn’t expected me so soon, and welcomed me gladly, then tried to explain how to get to the apartment from where I was.

Listen, until you’ve driven on I-5 jammed with traffic, then later curvy roads that you’re not used to, with a truck stuffed with a vacuum cleaner (among other things) and two cats, you would not believe how much that seriously sucked.

I finally arrived, unpacked, and waited for Tory to come home.

Now, despite the fact that we had been talking seriously about getting married, we settled in living together for the time. I started my new job with a cut in pay, but I was just happy to be there.

In January, I was struck with a bout of bronchitis. I was already running a fever and was sick as a dog, when Tory asked me out of the blue, “So, do you want to go get married?” Well, as that was kind of the whole point, I eagerly said yes.

She made the arrangements. Something involving Druids. Seriously.

We contacted Shelby with the Times, as she had asked us to do if we ever did get married. Then I dragged my feverish self off to a cold beach, and the following article was the result.

This article is available at:
http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=4002399&date=20000131
and reproduced here in whole without permission.

Monday, January 31, 2000
A fairy-tale romance with a park wedding
Shelby Gilje

Seattle Times Troubleshooter

Victoria Doyle and Jack Huster were married yesterday in West Seattle’s Lincoln Park, more than a year after he proposed marriage to help solve insurance problems she has as a heart-transplant survivor.

But yesterday’s “we dos” had nothing to do with insurance. Doyle and Huster’s story is a romantic fairy tale, certainly equal to scripts written for Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

With gray skies above, the waters of Puget Sound lapping against the beach and an occasional Fauntleroy-Vashon ferry passing by, Doyle, 42, -and Huster, 36, were married by priests of a local group associated with the British Druid Order. (Druids, an intellectual and religious caste among the tribal peoples of pagan Europe, were the custodians of cultural and spiritual heritage.)

Yesterday, layered clothing was the fashion, with Doyle wearing black jeans and a turtleneck, a black fur hat and a long, burgundy embroidered vest. The bridegroom rolled up his trouser cuffs to reveal thermal underwear.

“Taking their vows

Before the couple spoke their vows, the approximately 60 people attending marched around the beach in opposite directions, then formed a circle.

Kathie Brooks, priestess and goddess guardian for the ceremony, asked the couple:

“As the sun and moon bring light to the Earth, do you Victoria and Jack vow to bring the light of love and joy to your union?”

“We do,” the couple answered in unison.

“And do you vow to honor each other as you honor that which you hold most sacred?”

“We do.”

“And do you vow to maintain these vows in freedom, for as long as love shall last?”

Again they said, “We do.”

Then Gordon Goodykoontz, priest and god guardian, said:

“Let the stone bear witness that Victoria and Jack are joined in love and joy and freedom!”

Those in the circle followed with, “So let it be!”

Fairy Tale Wedding

Meeting online

Doyle and Huster met a couple of years ago in an Internet chat room. They had much in common; she understood and appreciated his wit and he understood hers.

“It was common weirdness,” Huster said. They liked some of the same books and riddles. By July 1998, they communicated so well they decided to meet – in person. They chose a Borders Books coffee shop in Chicago.

Though they had exchanged photos on the Internet, Huster said he had difficulty believing the woman he had corresponded with was so beautiful.

On the way to their date he told himself, “Yeah right. What am I doing? I should turn around.?”

After that meeting their relationship blossomed and they kept in touch via e-mail and phone. Just before Christmas 1998 she received some bad news.

It appeared that Regence BlueShield, her insurance carrier, no longer would pay for the anti-rejection drugs that have kept her alive since the heart transplant in July 1991.

With only three days of drugs on hand, the news was virtually a death sentence. Huster found it particularly intolerable, because his first wife, Kathy, died of a heart condition in 1987. It didn’t seem fair that it would happen again to someone so close.

Huster, a Fort Wayne, Ind., postal worker, made a proposal: If Doyle’s insurance would not cover the prescriptions, he would marry her and provide insurance that would pay.

“I wasn’t going to stand by and see her die,” Huster said.

He sent her papers to complete for a marriage license and reserved a date with a judge.

In the meantime he peppered the media – including The Times Troubleshooter – and the state insurance commissioner’s office with e-mails and faxes about Doyle’s plight.

Then Regence had a change of heart and decided to pay for the drugs.

While that was great news, it came as a letdown for the would-be bridal pair.

“I almost didn’t want to tell him it was going to work out. We were both a bit disappointed when we didn’t have to get married,” she said.

Huster canceled the date with the judge but had second thoughts, too. He remembers telling a co-worker in great detail about Victoria. The co-worker made him realize that he had strong feelings for her.

“I guess I need to have a piano drop on me before I realize certain things. I finally thought to myself, `So what do you want, Jack, a burning bush to tell you what to do?’ “

Last November, Huster packed up his cats and household goods, took a pay cut from his job with the U.S. Postal Service and relocated here.

Yesterday the grinning bridegroom said:

“No, we’re not getting married just because of the insurance.”

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Affaire du coeur, Part 5

Well, everything worked out, didn’t it? Not quite.

A few days later, Regence again turned down Tory’s coverage for other medications required as a result of the transplant. Regence claimed that these secondary medications weren’t covered under her transplant insurance.

We had been through this once, and this time I wasn’t going to waste time calling, faxing, and writing the people who didn’t respond the first time. This time I contacted the Seattle Times and the Insurance Commissioner’s office directly.

Again, Plan B was resurrected, except this time, we had even less time than before. We were already at the deadline we had originally set for Plan B, and set it in motion again with real intent to follow through with it.

Pressure was applied to Regence. And again, Regence blinked.

This article is available at:
http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=2939659&date=19990120
and is reproduced here without permission.

January 20, 1999

Troubleshooter
Insurer Bumbles Question About Drug Coverage
Shelby Gilje

Seattle Times Staff Columnist

Get it all in writing!

That’s the best advice I can give a consumer whether it’s Victoria Doyle, a heart-transplant survivor, who has been in a complicated dispute with an insurance carrier over drug coverage, or someone who can’t get a widget they ordered.

Ten days ago, it appeared that Doyle’s dilemma was resolved. Based on a letter Regence BlueShield sent to Don Sloma, a deputy in the state Insurance Commissioner’s Office, I wrote that the carrier had decided the transplant benefits in Doyle’s policy would cover medications she needs to survive – immuno-suppressants and drugs to control cholesterol, blood-pressure and stomach acid.

But just three days later, Regence reversed itself, saying it had approved only the immuno-suppressants Doyle requires, under her $200,000 lifetime transplant benefit. The other medications would be charged against her prescription coverage, which is capped at $500 a year, leaving Doyle to pay $4,300 a year out of pocket.

Regence spokesman Chris Bruzzo explained that the health plan’s pharmacists ruled the other drugs were not related to the heart transplant.

But Doyle says her physicians contend all these medications are required because of the transplant. And, she adds, she did not have high blood pressure or cholesterol, or stomach-acid problems before the transplant.

Bruzzo said the first letter to Sloma, signed by Waltraut Lehmann, Regence’s manager of regulatory affairs, dealt only with the immuno-suppressant drugs. The other medications were reviewed separately.

“We were not aware of the other drugs that she felt ought to be applied (to the transplant benefit) and we should have taken a broader view of all her medications,” Bruzzo said.

“The positive thing is we did review it and we have approved all seven drugs. And we are apologizing to Doyle for the challenges.”

Lehmann’s initial letter did not single out the blood-pressure, cholesterol or stomach-acid drugs for added review.

It said, in part:

“We did not recognize that her drugs should be counted against her transplant benefit, instead of her retail-drug benefit. Consequently – we are sorry to say – she was informed that, when she reached the $500 limit on her retail-drug benefit, her medication would no longer be covered.” The letter mentioned a billing problem, but said it would be corrected. There was no hint that the review of coverage would continue and that a different outcome was possible.

“We took that (Lehmann’s first letter) to mean an `all clear signal,’ ” said Jim Stevenson, a spokesman for Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn.

Lehmann’s second letter to the insurance commissioner’s staff said Regence’s decision was final: the added medications were not transplant-related. Lehmann said she understood Doyle would appeal.

Doyle said when she asked Regence and the insurance commissioner to review her coverage, she asked about all the transplant-related medications, not just the immuno-suppressants. But Doyle acknowledges that she made that request over the phone, not in writing.

Frankly it doesn’t make much sense to me to tell a consumer they are covered one day, then inform them a few days later that they are only partly covered.

It’s also odd that Regence has been paying for all of the medications since Doyle bought the policy in November 1996. Doyle says she always has purchased the medications through the pharmacy at the University of Washington Medical Center, where she had the transplant in 1991.

No one could explain the change of heart to me.

When Regence seemed to be reneging on its promised coverage last week, the insurance commissioner’s office re-opened its probe.

I made some more phone calls. Among other things, I asked Regence for a letter that specifies what drugs it will charge to Doyle’s transplant benefits.

Doyle says if she has future questions about coverage, or gets phone calls she will ask for everything in writing.

Doyle’s dilemma is one more reason to support the insurance commissioner’s proposed rules for more drug-coverage disclosures by insurance carriers – before consumers sign up for health plans.

Shelby Gilje’s Troubleshooter column appears Wednesday and Sunday in the Scene section of The Times.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

This time, Regence finally covered Tory’s meds. She had literally 3 days worth of meds left, before the final word came through. Imagine having 3 days left to live.

We weren’t going to have the last word, though. The medical director at Regence, decided have something positive to say about Regence.

This article is available at:
http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=2939588&date=19990120
and is reproduced here in whole without permission.

Editorials & Opinion: Wednesday, January 20, 1999
Doctors And Health Plans: Making The System Work
Donald Storey

Special To The Times

I’M a physician, so I know precisely the importance of a great doctor-patient relationship. People get the care they need, when they need it. And they stay healthier. When you like your doctor and trust what he or she has to say, and they listen to your concerns and needs, it makes all the difference in the world.

I was 20 years in private practice in internal and pulmonary medicine. Now, I’m the medical director at Regence BlueShield, our state’s leading health plan, with more than 1.1 million members.

So, when I heard some doctors – even those who are friends and longtime trusted colleagues of mine – characterizing a new contractual agreement we distributed last summer to providers in this state as a “master-slave relationship,” well, that didn’t sit too well with me.

I’ve worked with health plans my entire medical career; on occasion I have disagreed with them. But I was never their slave. And I was never told how to practice medicine. I would not tolerate that when I was in private practice, and I won’t tolerate it as medical director at Regence BlueShield.

That’s why when I felt the backlash from my colleagues last summer, my one and only reaction was this: We need to find a better way for doctors and health plans to work together. Period. We must have enough of a partnership to come together, with trust and credibility, to resolve those problems. That’s what is best for our patients and health-plan members.

We listened to physician leaders from groups such as the Washington State Medical Association and the Pierce County Medical Society, as well as many individual providers and practitioners who had voiced their strong concerns about our newest contract. And then we got to work on making changes to our contract.

We went back to the physician leaders in our state and showed them the changes. Case in point: On several occasions, we met with the executive director and president of the Washington State Medical Association, the most vocal critic of our initial contract distributed last summer. They gave us input, were given comprehensive reviews of our revised contract, and given time for additional response and comment.

We’ve made the first move to the physician community in this state – taking the negative feedback from doctors on our new contract and going back to doctors for input and review. What’s more, we are committed to this path.

Physicians in this state probably won’t say our revised contract is perfect or that every word suits their purposes. And that’s OK. But they will say it is a definite improvement and that we worked together, in good faith, to settle our differences.

So why, if we’ve learned to work better together, can’t all physicians put an unqualified stamp of approval on this contract? This is a business contract and our responsibilities do differ. Physicians are responsible for the medical advice and care they provide to patients. Health plans are responsible for taking the premium dollars our members give us each month and ensuring that they are spent in the most efficient and effective manner possible. And we may have, at times, a difference of opinion with our providers over how those dollars are spent.

But the key will be how we settle our differences. At Regence BlueShield, we believe there is a middle ground that will allow us to work together on behalf of patients and members, even when the issues are complex and contentious. We know the issues are tough, and will only get tougher. We will go head-to-head with our physicians and other providers over how much we reimburse them for medical services, among other key issues. Because that’s our responsibility – keeping costs reasonable while ensuring that health-care consumers have access to quality providers and medical services.

Early this year, physicians throughout our state will receive our new, revised contract, and we think they’ll be pleased with the changes we’ve made. They’ll know we’ve listened to their concerns and responded in a positive manner.

We believe we have started to lay a solid foundation of collaboration. Our actions over the latter part of 1998 in working closely with physicians in crafting a fair, responsible contract are a practical example of our future intentions.

We won’t settle for “Us versus Them” anymore. I hope my colleagues feel the same way.

Donald D. Storey, M.D., is medical director at Regence BlueShield, and was a practicing physician for more than 20 years in Washington. He is also a board member of the Washington State Medical Association, the state’s leading physician organization.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

This editorial just happened to run at the same time as this last article. It was an attempt to make them look like the misunderstood good guys.

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