The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention. President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd. Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.
Giving up is not “reform.” County Executive Ed Mangano’s proposal to transfer property assessment from the county to the towns might possibly speed up assessment decisions by replacing one large and overwhelmed bureaucracy with several somewhat smaller ones. It will likely recreate problems that were major motivations in creating our highly centralized county government 75 years ago.
The 1938 county charter merged the town Boards of Assessors and the County Board of Equalization, ending three decades of complaints, lawsuits and hard feelings about the lack of specific, uniform levels of property assessments between the towns. In a tax system screaming out for simplification, clarification and a sense of certainty, spinning off assessments to the towns will reintroduce “equalization” as an annual issue. Tens of thousands of residents are still trying to figure out why their assessment went down but their tax bill still went up. The division of taxes heading up the tax food chain in an equitable manner is the most complex subject in local government, and it’s all going to make people very sad, particularly in villages and school districts that are split between townships.
Manhattan District Attorney (D.A.) Robert Morgenthau was facing a spirited Democratic primary challenge from a former judge in 2005, but his opponent had trouble finding anything substantively negative to say about Morgenthau.
The reason I know this: a city-based tabloid newspaper reporter called me weeks before the election, asking whether it was legal to have a Manhattan driver’s license while at the same time registering and insuring a car in Dutchess County, where auto insurance premiums are much lower. The answer: yes, so long as the insured vehicle is primarily garaged in Dutchess County. I was the director of public affairs for the New York State Insurance Department at the time and knew immediately the question pertained to Morgenthau because he met those criteria.
Written by Michael A. Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00
Some of us are understandably baffled. Let’s cut through it. This is what Obamacare says at its core: Insurance companies, you will end some of your most appalling practices and cruelties, the stuff that is banned everywhere else on Earth and should have been banned in America four decades ago. In exchange, millions of customers will be driven to you, some of them subsidized by the government. And it will be very good for you.
That’s the biggest part of it. It isn’t the Second Holocaust that is described to me every single day when I open my email box or tune to the wrong AM radio station. Here are actual phrases included in just today’s emails: “The Dictator-in-Chief,” “Hundreds Of Millions Of People Are Still Going To Lose Their Health Care Plans,” “Obama Assaulting Fabric of Our Nation….”
An enormous political-industrial complex, including an entire national political party, is being funded and coordinated to confuse, discourage and block full implementation of this law. 68 percent of uninsured single mothers and 60 percent of America’s uninsured working poor live in the 26 states where governors have been obstructionist and rejected the federally-funded expansion of Medicaid. We have to invent new words to describe the obstruction and meanness we see across the country today.
There are forces out there who root hard for Lord Voldemort and Count Malfoy to finally get Harry and his friends, and they are dragging this country to a dark, dark place.
Lost somewhere in between those whipping up hysterics and those television talking faces who coo on cue that President Obama “is giving everyone health care,” there fester legitimate flaws in the Affordable Care Act that might have been fixed, improved or adjusted years ago.
In the 2008 presidential primaries, Senator Obama excoriated Senators Clinton and Edwards for supporting individual mandates to acquire insurance. It should not have been linked with some of the very humane, very popular changes in ACA. But the ACA wasn’t crafted to improve Americans’ health care. It’s not even about health insurance. The law was designed by insurance and pharmaceutical companies to maintain their dominant position in the health care mega-structure. The White House traded real reform for a promise that they wouldn’t crush the legislation, as they did during the Clinton administration.
It is, on some level, an understandable trade-off. It is also a fatal flaw.
To ensure that any possible outcome will not reduce their profit margins, insurance and pharmaceutical corporations are using Obamacare as cover. Drug prices have been ratcheting up all year. Those terminated plans that don’t meet the minimum standards about which we’ve heard so much in the last two weeks are plans that insurers introduced after the passage of the ACA, knowing that these plans wouldn’t meet the standards, making a quick profit off the last enrollees.
Meanwhile, we expect people to consider a list of 58 plans available in New York, some of which appear identical at first glance, and decide if it’s better to pay $200 a month more for a plan with no deductible or $200 less for one with a $2,400 deductible. What is the difference between “Deductible’ and “In Network Cost Share”? Why is dialysis $15 on this Platinum plan but 0 on the Silver Plan? There’s no Enter key? Oh, I click on Apply Filters to make it work.
Everyone going through this process asks this: “Why, why, why didn’t they just give us all the option to buy into Medicare?”
We all have neighbors, friends and family who need this to work, so that we can have a somewhat improved version of the world’s most expensive, least inclusive health insurance system. Americans deserve better, but let’s at least get this to work.