Neighbors seeking input in Beth Israel downsizing plan

Judy Wessler, community health planner

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Despite the usually-slower summer months, community groups have remained focused on Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s downsizing plan, which includes drastically reducing the number of hospital beds. The Gramercy-Stuyvesant Independent Democratic Club hosted a recent forum to provide updates, although representatives from local hospitals, including MSBI, were unavailable to attend the meeting.

Community Board 3 Chair Jamie Rogers said that the community board, along with Boards 2 and 6, has recently been involved in a working group organized by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

“The main asks (of the group) are to maximize community participation and make sure that the State Department of Health is actually listening to our concerns,” Rogers said. “The DOH isn’t the most community-minded of our bureaucracies. We have trouble getting them to our events.”

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Opinion: Obamacare repeal: What’s at stake

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

We all have friends or family who are ill, some seriously. There are some in nursing homes, some in hospitals, and others being treated at home.

My good friend Bob has been courageously battling cancer for several years. He had surgery and follow up treatment, which to a large extent was paid for by his private insurance. He was doing well for a while, but now the cancer is back with a vengeance and has spread to his liver. He is in the fight of his life, literally. His future is uncertain, maybe no future at all. But at least he does not need the added worry about whether he can access treatment or afford medicines that might save or at least extend his life.

Giving this peace of mind to all Americans was the whole point of the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” which President Trump and his cohorts in Congress are so intent on dismantling.

After vowing to “quickly” do away with Obamacare during his campaign, Trump subsequently declared “who knew health care was so complicated”?

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Pols frustrated over lack of input from community in MSBI downsizing

Mount Sinai Downtown President Dr. Jeremy Boal (right) answers a question asked by Council Member Corey Johnson. Pictured at left is Brad Korn, director of community and government affairs at Mount Sinai. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community members and elected officials have expressed concern about the steep reduction of beds at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, once the hospital is downsized as planned. At a forum held in the Union Square hospital facility last Thursday, State Senator Brad Hoylman and City Councilmember Corey Johnson brought up the number of beds, and Hoylman added that he was concerned about a lack of community input on the plan, as were representatives for Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilmember Dan Garodnick.

When Hoylman criticized the lack of community involvement in the issue and asked if any of the plans would be modified based on input from residents, Mount Sinai Downtown President Dr. Jeremy Boal admitted that the plan would not.

“We’re skiing in front of an avalanche,” he said, citing financial concerns for Beth Israel. “We’re losing money at such a rapid clip that if we take a giant pause, the community will be left with nothing.”

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Reckoning in Congress

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

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Steven Sanders

Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King has never been one to mince words. Over the weekend he charged that some of his fellow Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives were behaving like “political terrorists” and literally threatening to damage the United States and our economy if they cannot get their way in delaying or defunding the Affordable Care Act also known as “Obamacare.”

Representative King has hit the nail on the head.

A small group of right wing and Tea Party affiliated Republicans in Congress have shut down the federal government and could possibly devalue the credit worthiness of the U.S. dollar if they cannot achieve by threats and extortion what they failed to win by legislation and that is to derail the new health care law which they loathe. It is hard to know whether they hate the law or despise the President more, but that is what they are doing.

Don’t get me wrong, any member of Congress or any citizen for that matter has every right to oppose a policy they disagree with and they have every right to dislike anyone that they choose. However, what is terribly disturbing and destructive is that after having lost their fight against Obamacare in the votes in Congress and in the vote from the last Presidential election, and after the law was upheld by the United State Supreme Court, these right wing militants have decided to put the entire United States economy in jeopardy lest the President and the majority of the House and the Senate give in to their extortion. This brand of extreme politics and blind “no compromise ideology” is common in the Middle East, but it is something new to American political discourse. It is fundamentalism practiced in a three-piece suit.

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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 3

Who does what for whom?

In his It Seems to Me column, “America is a Great Country” (T&V, Sept. 26) Christopher Hagedorn noted that, “You don’t have to be a statistics major in college (Where else, one might ask?)to understand that persons with kids over 26 are paying for persons with kids under 26,” and Mr. Hagedorn goes on to stress, “All of the above are paying for others with chronic diseases.”

In reading Mr. Hagedorn, I was reminded of PBS reporters, Thursday the 26th, as I recall, who pushed the point that the young (contributors) would be paying for the elderly and sick. So the question I have is this: Is that so? Is it so that those who make no claims pay for those that do?

I believe that here we are witness to the framed opposition between collective actions (such as insurance) and those who take a more deeply personal and self-centered, almost acquisitive, view.

I want to offer something different.  I want to acknowledge collective actions, public and private such as health care, Social Security, with its payments to widows, kids, disabled, but also car and home insurances, for two, provided by private insurance companies. These are forms of collective behavior. Hence, when I pay my health care premium that is not analogous to my paying for the narrow world of buying a theater ticket:

I pay for my ticket and get a show. That’s it! Nor is my paying into an insurance fund analogous to my setting money aside for myself in the form of a savings, bond fund or stock.

While it is true that a record may be kept of my contributions, that record does not indicate ownership; it merely shows my contributions. When I retire, or get sick, I do not draw on them, I draw on the fund. If I do not draw on my contributions, then  contrary to Mr. Hegedorn and the gentle voices on PBS, I do not draw on those of others either!  Social Security and health care were never “nest eggs.” They were never singular “savings for a rainy day.” They are complex  participations in the life of a people, and they do not have the logic of Me, Myself and I. To suggest that they do is to distort the collective energies of a people.

John Giannone, ST

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Letters to the Editor, Sept. 20

Conservative thoughts

Two items have outstripped inflation during the past decades: medical care and education. Why?

One obvious reason for increased costs of medicine is good: new understandings, treatments and technologies (some scanning devices cost in excess of $1M). But why does every “first rate” hospital have to own one? They could be shared. Prestige costs excessive money.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, my family saw a physician whose fee was $3 per office visit and a house call (really!) was $5. Now with inflation a consultation is at least $100 and house calls are hardly even remembered.

Then every patient knew what he/she was paying. With the advent of insurance and government entitlements, few know what’s being charged. (And, don’t care.) So, that has made many physicians increase fees as a result of avarice.

Education: in 1973, when I began graduate school at Columbia, my aunt who had attended during the 1940’s. She asked me how much I paid for tuition. “$96.” She was shocked and told me that she had paid $10. This is a pattern which envelopes almost all universities – college and graduate school. Now Columbia, the other Ivy League schools and even the overrated NYU, charge over $1,200 per credit.

Why? Certainly Columbia has an endowment of about a zillion dollars. The cost exists because they can and students keep on applying. Loans have to be taken by many students.

Public primary and secondary education keep on receiving more monies – yet the result is that today’s undergraduates are being exposed to yesterday’s high school curriculum.

For medical care and education to be effective, the free market should be used: be sure to let patients know what is being paid per visit and procedure. (The higher the fee, the more insurance has to be paid.) And universities must be made more demanding in curriculum and far more competitive in their fees – so that post graduates are not burdened for practically the remainder of their lives.

Some on the right speak of “European socialism.” Well, some unworkable and ineffective form is what’s going on here.

David Chowes, PCV

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