J. Patrick Rooney

J. Patrick Rooney

J. Patrick Rooney (died September 15, 2008 in Indianapolis) was the chairman and founder of the Fairness Foundation which spends its energies in helping low income Americans on education and health care. He is the Father of Medical Savings Accounts, [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=America's Health Care Crisis Solved: Money-Saving Solutions, Coverage for Everyone | date=May 2008 | publisher= | url =http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470275723.html | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2008-09-16 | language = ] now known as Health Savings Accounts. He previously was the chairman of Golden Rule Insurance Co., during which he built the company to one of the nation’s leaders in the individual health insurance market. According to Indiana Business Magazine, "in the insurance industry, a description that often precedes Rooney's name is 'maverick'.

Civil Rights Champion

In 1976, Mr. Rooney led a fight against discrimination in insurance agent testing with an eight-year lawsuit against the State of Illinois and the Educational Testing Service [ [http://www.ets.org/portal/site/ets/menuitem.c988ba0e5dd572bada20bc47c3921509/?vgnextoid=3fabaf5e44df4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD&vgnextchannel=4ab65784623f4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD ETS: Educational Testing Service – About ] ] and was successful. [ [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70E1FFB3C5C0C7A8EDDA80994DC484D81&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss TEST SERVICE ACCEPTS SAFEGUARDS AGAINST BIAS - Free Preview - The New York Times ] ] . The suit charged discrimination against minority applicants. Estimated cost of the litigation and experts was approximately $2 million. The Civil Rights case was settled with a precedent-setting agreement that requires a method of construction exams designed to eliminate unnecessary racial disparities.

After the settlement with the ETS, Rooney donated more than $500,000 to John Weiss, Chuck Stone, former Director of Minority Affairs at ETS and Bob Schaeffer to help create FairTest: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing in 1984. Today FairTest, based in Boston, works to elimiante the overuse and misuse of standardized tests in the K-12, university admissions and employment licensing arenas.

An article published on the non-profit Higher Education website by Robert A. Jones, a former reporter and columnist at the Los Angeles Times, described Rooney as "a wealthy man and politically eccentric conservative who also had championed civil rights throughout his life. Rooney's company aimed many of its products at blacks in the midwest.

His interest in standardized testing was piqued when he discovered that white insurance salesmen were passing the licensing exam in Illinois in large numbers but black salesmen were not. The exam infuriated Rooney, who said "The construction of the questions had a disparate impact on minority people." Rooney sued Illinois and the Educational Testing Service, which provided the tests for the state. The result, which is still known as the "Golden Rule Settlement," committed the state and ETS to reform the way questions are formulated for its licensing tests." [ [http://www.highereducation.org/crosstalk/ct0306/news0306-fairtest.shtml National CrossTalk - Vol. 14 / No. 3 - Summer 2006 ] ]


An advocate of social change, Mr. Rooney’s approach to parental choice in education broke into national headlines in 1991 (Wall Street Journal Editorial, August 2, 1991, titled "Education's Golden Rule,") with his founding of the Educational CHOICE Charitable Trust [ [http://www.choicetrust.org/Home.asp Educational CHOICE Charitable Trust - Home ] ] . The Educational CHOICE Charitable Trust provides tuition assistance for center-city students from lower-income families in Indianapolis whose parents want them to attend a non-government school of the parents’ choice. Mr. Rooney’s action in Indianapolis started a ripple effect across the country (Wall Street Journal Editorial "Fighting the Golden Rule," September 6, 1991) . Today there are over 60 such programs with over 53,000 students in privately funded educational choice programs, based upon Rooney’s original model.

America's PAC

Rooney received attention in the fall 2006 United States Congressional elections, after America's pac, a group Rooney donated $900,000 to, ran controversial ads [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/26/AR2006102601811_2.html The Year Of Playing Dirtier - washingtonpost.com ] ] alleging that Democrats "supported liberal abortion laws" and that 400,000 abortions each year were of black babies. Of the 27 radio ads that ran during the 2006 election cycle, only two dealt with the abortion issue. The ads can be heard, and the scripts read, at Vote Our Values [http://www.voteourvalues.com] . The spokesman for the group is Herman Cain [http://www.hermancain.com/] an African American radio talk show host, author

Helping the Uninsured

In October 2006, Mr. Rooney was the subject of a NUVO Dispatch titled "Defending the Uninsured." [ [http://nuvo.net/articles/defending_the_uninsured Defending the uninsured - NUVO.net ] ] which reported "Rooney has found that hospitals have made a common practice of charging 3.5 times what Medicare will pay for services. While Rooney acknowledges that hospitals may need to charge more than Medicare will pay, he contends that authoritative research shows that Medicare plus 25 percent is the reasonable amount for hospitals to charge…. 'Nationally, 35 percent of Hispanics are uninsured; 22 percent of African-Americans are uninsured; and 11 percent of non-Hispanic Caucasians are uninsured. So when you’re doubling, tripling, multiplying the price by five times, you’re doing it mainly to minority people,' Rooney says. 'I consider that racial discrimination.' NUVO goes on to report: “Rooney believes that people need tools to defend themselves. ‘They need to know how to deal with the hospital and the evidence is if they deal with the hospital correctly almost all the time the hospital will forgive the bill … The hospital is only entitled to collect a reasonable fee. There is case law exactly on this subject. When they enter the hospital, if they sign an unconditional commitment it’s generally not binding because they’re under duress.’ Rooney has made helping the uninsured a focus of the Fairness Foundation [http://www.fairnessfoundation.org/] . The foundation has allied itself with lawyers willing to represent people in disputes over hospital bills and has set up a toll free number that people call for help: 800-742-3441. Rooney emphasizes that talking people through the process of dealing with hospitals requires patience, stamina and verbal skills. The Fairness Foundation, he says, is equipped to not only give people useful information but to talk them through what they need to do. ‘A sick person is not in a position to adequately defend themselves,’ Rooney says. ‘But that doesn’t mean they can’t be defended.’"


Rooney died in his sleep on September 15, 2008, aged 80.

Indiana GOP Chairman Murray Clark released a statement Monday afternoon saying:"I was deeply saddened to hear about the loss of Pat Rooney, one of Indianapolis' finest citizens. His commitment to our community was unwavering and resolute. Whether it was fighting against racial discrimination or working to improve education opportunities for young people, Pat was a civic-minded innovator. He was a mentor to many of us. He will be sorely missed." [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Indiana insurance pioneer dies | date=Sep 15, 2008 | publisher=The Associated Press | url =http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=9012317&nav=menu35_2 | work =Wish TV | pages = | accessdate = 2008-09-16 | language = ]


External links

* [http://www.fairnessfoundation.org The Fairness Foundation] fairnessfoundation.org
* [http://www.healthcarecrisissolved.com Rooney's current book] healthcarecrisissolved.com
* [http://www.nndb.com/people/624/000121261 NNDB]

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