It was an eye-opener to learn that during their year of negotiations with Empire/ Blue Cross of our three East End hospitals viewed themselves as a David fighting Goliath. They were also willing to admit that even they find it difficult to deal with the myriad of insurance plans as they try to advocate for their patients and themselves.
If the Peconic Bay Medical Center is daunted by the challenge, what chance do we mere mortals have when our “denial of services” letters read “not medically necessary”? Health insurance companies are not subject to anti-trust laws. The result has been that power has flowed for so long in their direction that the game is now rigged in their favor. In many cases they have little or no effective competition, leaving them free to do as they please. Oft times this leaves us and our hospitals with the short end of the stick.
The new health care reform law starts to correct this situation by regulating the health insurance companies so they serve our interests better. New standards will prevent them from overcharging or refusing insurance to people with pre-existing conditions. The new health care exchanges will increase competition that will benefit many of us. Policy cancellations will be forbidden. An independent appeals process will help us argue our own case in the face of unfair insurance company refusals. Yearly and lifetime benefit caps will end. Lastly, and maybe most overlooked, health insurers will be required to pay back 85 percent of large plan premiums and 80 percent of small/individual plan premiums for our medical benefits. When they overspend on lobbying, advertising and their own salaries and bonuses, they will have to issue cash rebates to us. It’s about time.
The new health care reform bill will even the playing field so that we and our local hospitals have a fair chance dealing with the health insurance monolith. It means better medicine for all of us.
Calling Rod Serling
Before you turn the page, I would like you to meet Bill, a quiet, unassuming individual, who on a warmer-than-usual spring afternoon in April found himself walking into what appeared to be a large meeting room.
The room was filled with a variety of people. For some reason, many of them looked alike, or at least bore many of the same characteristics. They all seemed to have an angry look about them, all wearing frowns. There was, however, an occasional smile as they made eye contact with one of their own.
Bill then realized that he may have stumbled into what could have been a tea party meeting. Many of those gathered went to the microphone to express their views, both pro and con, as to what water should be used to make the tea. Many were adamant and almost hostile, claiming that they knew best and that only the contaminated water from Orient should be used. Others took a somewhat calmer and more rational approach by trying to warn of the dangers that the contaminated, pesticide-laden Orient water could bring to those drinking the tea.
This approach only agitated those who opposed clean public water. The voices of those who preferred using the dirty water grew louder and more hostile and even were rude enough to yell at one of proponents of clean water to sit down and be quiet.
The meeting was getting out of control as the louder voices were drowning out the saner approach as to what water should be used to make the tea.
Then it suddenly dawned on Bill that he had entered “The Twilight Zone.”
Give it to Greenport
Orient doesn’t want SCWA water. Greenport school is drowning when it rains and repairs are a multimillion-dollar expense.
Easy solution: Send the $1.6 million to Greenport for their school.
Get the facts on the Orient water mains
The Town Board hearing on April 6 on the proposed local law favoring the placement of the Orient water transmission line on the town water map was a bit surprising to us.
It revealed a deep lack of understanding about SCWA, its corporate and financial structure, how it operates and why it is exempt from certain governmental regulations. This lack of understanding spilled over into testimony that evening full of conspiracy theories, allegations of corruption and mismanagement, which the supervisor allowed to go on without rebuttal from us.
Recognizing, however, as Mr. Russell did, that these matters were not germane to the call of the hearing, SCWA will be hosting two open houses at our Boisseau Avenue facility in Southold hamlet to give interested people from anywhere on the North Fork an opportunity to drop by and have any questions about SCWA or the Orient project itself answered on a personal, one-on-one basis. These open houses are scheduled for April 16 and April 19 from 2 to 7 p.m. and we will have expert staff available to discuss water quality, water production and distribution, construction design and techniques, finance, administration, public authority law and customer service.
We are sensitive to the fact that we are not just another utility. There is little public health hazard in watching cable TV pundits, cruising the Internet, or turning on the lights, but drinking water from polluted private wells is a very serious matter and response is at the core mission of what we are all about. Our SCWA filtration systems “break through” just like the most sophisticated home filtration systems, but we know about it as soon as it happens and perform the necessary maintenance immediately. Do residents with whole house or under-the-sink filters test their water all the time like we do? I doubt it.
If people want to demonize SCWA, that may be good therapy for them, but it doesn’t contribute to an appropriate public health response for Orient.
chief executive officer
Suffolk County Water Authority
It’s all his fault
Since the funding for the Orient water main is coming from the federal stimulus package, we can now blame Obama for that, too.
Different rules apply
I am surprised that hardly a voice of concern has been raised concerning the indictment of an aide for rape and sexual abuse at the AHRC group home in Southold the past week (“Aide charged with rape,” April 8).
It is beyond comprehension how AHRC [The Association for the Help of Retarded Children] and its director somehow seem to have some kind of built in indemnity here. While AHRC has a worthwhile mission, it is also an extremely well-funded agency, receiving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to support its various programs. The director of this so-called not-for-profit agency receives a salary in excess of $321,000, according to the 2006 income tax returns. Is this an example of a not-for-profit business?
Had this happened in a private business, say an adult home or a nursing home, the media, the state and advocates would be all over it. Then it would be portrayed as an example of adult home abuse, not that of a lone employee acting autonomously, as seems to be the case here.
It should also be noted that not-for-profit businesses such as AHRC do not pay taxes to support their communities. In addition to the massive funding and great good will they receive from the state, they are politically connected, In this case, AHRC is almost a direct offshoot of the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, from which it receives its prodigious funding and licensing.
For-profit businesses do pay taxes to support their communities, but are often seen in a negative light, although their missions, like that of AHRC, are worthwhile.
New York State is a great state to do business, if you are a not-for-profit.
A new manifesto
The following 10-point program is an excerpt from “The Communist Manifesto,” written by comrades Engels and Marx.
1. Abolition of property in land, and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of wastelands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.
Are some of these steps on their way to being implemented today? Take special note of steps 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10.
Will Obama impose a value-added tax on us to pay for Obamacare? Europe has been burdened with this tax for years.
Will he cut military spending for that same reason and further weaken our national defense?
Does Obamacare rob our senior citizens of quality health care? Will he add 15 million illegal immigrants to Obamacare and eventually grant them amnesty to garner their votes when they gain U.S. citizenship?
Is Obama truly “the prince of deception?”
Come join the effort
The recent Ken Burns documentary on the national parks system was an eye-opener. In most cases the park or monument was the idea of a strong-willed person who got it done in the face of opposition. From Teddy Roosevelt, Stuart Udall and others this was the case. Today we look back at these impressive works of preservation, including Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and the Adirondack National Park, with awe and with thankfulness and appreciation of the perseverance that got it done.
I see a similarity here on the North Fork. We are the last rural, agricultural, marine and vacation area left within reach of hordes of city folk. Wouldn’t the preservation of these assets be a wonderful thing that would bring increasing appreciation over the years? We don’t need a Teddy Roosevelt or Stu Udall to accomplish this, we just need thoughtful citizens who appreciate the magic we have here and who will not allow its loss. And we can do it.
The answer is a well-thought-out comprehensive master plan, and it is under way now in our Planning Department. What is needed is our constant attention and input to assure that there are no gaps or loopholes. We need everyone’s idea of what is special about the North Fork to be put out there for comment and review.
If you share our feeling that the North Fork is a really special place worthy of all our preservation efforts, now is the time to join the discussion.
It’s payback time
Let’s face it, our government needs money and just like millions of taxpaying citizens, I feel I’m paying my fair share and shouldn’t be asked for more.
While pondering our national dilemma, I realized that the folks that created this economic mess don’t seem to be feeling any of the pain or suffering their decisions caused. With that in mind, I came up with a few revenue-generating ideas that we should demand from Washington, even though these ideas have a snowball’s chance:
* A .05 cent surcharge on every trade the markets make every day (stocks, bonds, commodities, etc.) until our debit is paid down.
* A surcharge on Wall Street and auto executives’ bonuses, 75 percent for two years, 50 percent for two years, 25 percent for two years and 20 percent forever.
* A 25 percent surcharge on all money used to lobby Congress forever.
* A 25 percent surcharge on all campaign contributions and at the end of the campaign, any leftover money would be sent to the Treasury to be used for debit reduction. (No more war chests).
* Revoke all tax-exempt status for some period of time; five to 10 years or permanently.
This will raise billions of dollars and not have much, if any, effect on us average taxpayers. It’s time that the folks who dug us this deep hole start pouring some money into it. After all, we the people helped them out when they needed our help, so how about some payback?