Wednesday, July 22, 2009


From a story this morning on 27East:

Congressman Bishop suspends town hall meetings

Michael Wright reports:

"U.S. Representative Tim Bishop has tem­porarily suspended holding 'town hall' style meetings after Suffolk County Police were called by residents to escort him back to his car amid a throng of rowdy protestors{sic} who turned out for a meeting in Setauket last month."

Why are we not surprised?

This might explain a large part of it.

Apparently I have given Congressman Bishop (D-NY) too much credit for a "testicularity" he does not possess.

Voters start asking him some tough questions about his positions, and he bails.

I would refer the Congressman to President Truman's celebrated aphorism in respect to one's tolerance for an excess of heat.

Nowhere did Giv'em Hell Harry ever suggest shutting down the kitchen entirely!


1. Ray Overton said...

Unfortunately, Congressman Bishop is typical of NY's politicians - call out others when there is political gain possible, but hide when they may be held accountable for actions. His stance on the Blue Cross/Blue Shield discussions with the East End Hospitals is a perfect example. He will call out BC/BS for not allowing a deserved increase in reimbursement to the hospitals but fails to acknowledge that the national healthcare policy he is crafting will reimburse hospitals at a rate lower than BC/BS's current rate. I'm certain he will not take questions on that topic as it is not politically expedient.

2. Matlynn Carville said...

I think you judge the guy too harshly. He has already held a hundred town hall meetings. One fly-by reading of the 27East article makes it blatantly clear the meeting that initiated the decision was not attended by citizenry familiar with Robert's Rules of order. It hearkened to the last Village Hall meeting where YOU were interrupted multiple times when you had the floor, and your rights as a speaker were violated. I believe you cut your speech short and left the dais for the same reason Bishop had to bail.

The first order of business is to conduct business in a polite and orderly fashion. Bishop can't conduct a town hall meeting at a three-ring circus, and the good news for us is that we have the blog to consult after the violation of order for you to complete your statement. Keep them honest, Speir!

Never mind the curious characterizations of the 27East report... much of which actually reads as if it was taken from a press release written by Bishop's aide, Jon Schneider... just watch the videos of the Setauket meeting which he blames for his lastest action.

And stop with the "He has already held a hundred town hall meetings" stuff. More and more of his constituents have hit the wall with his faux-representation, and are declining to allow him any more free rides!
– Dean

3. Jeanne Speir said...

In response to Mr. Overton's comment: Sir, there is a lot changing in health care, which makes it a national economic priority today. I write this comment as a Family Nurse Practitioner and as a Baby Boomer.

The sheer size of our generation has/will wipe out everything that is left of our not-so-good health insurance programs.

This may end up being a very good thing.

We rank 27th in overall health care quality ranked by civilized nations (a huge embarrassment), and for that we pay double what any other industrialized country pays for health care.

The national healthcare policy being forged as we speak is an absolute necessity, and, yes, a jarring call to reality for all of us. Our kids don't have the solid lifetime jobs our parents had. Many corporations have stopped providing health insurance coverage, and those who do provide it often build in ridiculously long waiting periods to join, and have increased dramatically the insured's monetary contribution. Medicare leaves a huge 20% hole the patient is obligated to pay; the quality of health care coverage shifts from county to county and state to state. Every little insurer is out to make a buck off our health -- so there are times where needed care is denied.

Alternatively, there are times the "system" is milked for additional tests (and income) by unscrupulous providers or anxious patients, stirred to take the newest designer drug advertised to them on TV.

We cannot sustain this system. Period.

Our health care expenditures are a huge part of our national debt. So everytime I hear some nay-sayer whine about two trillion in ten years, I yawn and refer them to this informative site: National Coalition on Health Care.

As a local Empress would tell you (as she enjoys the death throes of our current insurance system on our dime), two trillion is "mere pennies."

Read that link. Wow! What we are paying and are projected to pay is shocking. I know why 63% of bankruptcies start with a health care crisis that collapses people's worlds.

If folks could only see the hidden costs they are paying now. Then, a portable, national, optional, for citizens only health insurance plan, just like our Senators and Trustees enjoy, would seem a far more attractive option. BC/BS is the tip of the iceburg, Mr.Overton.

Didn't mean to sandbag you, Ray, but she knows a great deal more about this than I do!
– Dean

4. Ray Overton said...

Unfortunately, what never gets acknowledged through the political system when a national healthcare system is debated is there is no free lunch when it comes to healthcare, no matter how much people want to believe there is. This fact has been proven again and again in Canada and Europe, particulary Sweden, the "model" healthcare system. Specifically, there are only two alternatives that are faced in this situation. First, taxes/premiums/copays/deductibles and/or direct payments will continue to rise for everyone or 2) there will be a further rationing of services. These are the facts and they cannot be debated. As our population and our life expectancy increases, these costs will continue to escalate. And, since healthcare providers will always have a choice of whether they continue to practice medicine or do something else, I suspect we will continue to see a pro-rata decline in the number of those in primary care positions.

With these new bills comes an expectation from the public that all people will have access to the best of services - for instance everyone in NY with cancer being treated at Sloan-Kettering. This is not possible nor is it sustainable.The existing government programs of Medicare/Medicaid are proof of that and are one of the root causes of the situation we are already in. The massive underpayments/cost shifts for services by M/M have forced providers to up the ante on private carriers just to stay in business. Out of necessity, the private carriers have either disbanded, signficantly increased premiums, or as in the current BC/BS negotiations, minimized increases to providers or a combination of both.

The flat rate (community rating) premium system forced on the health insurance companies in the '80s/'90s also needs to be modified so that 1) younger, healthy individuals can participate in the market and 2) lifestyle choices that have a negative impact on overall health have a financial impact on the individual making those choices.

When living in VT, where a significant number of the residents are "covered" by state-run insurance and having testified on numerous occasions about the impact of specific proposed/adopted legislation regarding healthcare, I am also well versed on this issue. For nearly 20 years, I have advocated a number of changes that would continue to allow for competition and improve the base levels of healthcare provided throughout the country. First, following the ROTC model, provide full scholarships to students accepted/matriculating to Medical schools. Removing either quarter million debt or investment will signficantly improve the financial status of doctors when they come out of med school. For this investment, doctors would have a 5 year commitment (salaried) to practice medicine as assigned to improve the base level of care throughout the country. Following the comletion of their five year commitment, doctors will be be able to pursue their specialties as chosen.

Second, return a modified tiered premium system that takes into account age and lifestyle choices (particularly smoking). Accountability needs to be returned to the system and those who choose to make healthy choices should be rewarded for those choices.

The second item leads to the third and probably most important change in our attitudes - obtaining health insurance coverage needs to become a priority for individuals and businesses, not some anticipated entitlement. Premiums paid for all private health insurance should be fully tax deductible as should all medical payments. These will be expenses that are not added to the government tally and individual/corporate efforts should recognized with tax credits.

Finally, real reform must occur in the field of medical malpractice or we will continue to lose providers. A good friend of mine with a single practioner, specialty practice for 15 years without a single claim still must ante-up $110,000 annually in just medical malpractice insurance. This is just the beginning of his overhead costs, all which must be passed onto to his customers/patients and paid for by insurance companies, goverment programs, or the individual patient.

These are real business decisions that must be made. Unfortunately, the political arena that Congressman Bishop is part of will simply refuse to acknowledge them. I agree with the President that our healthcare system will negatively impact our economy. I strongly disagree with his assertion that government is the means to correct it.

Thank you, Mr. Overton. Mrs. Speir?

5. Jeanne Speir said...

Ray, I will need more time to go over this than I have to give at this time due to other obligations. You bring up some excellent observations; I don't see them all quite the same way. You require a reasoned rebuttal, because I believe you are seeking a solution and a compromise. Thank you for your time and research.

6. Mike Anthony said...

Bill Moyer's last show was instructive. His guest was a former VP from Aetna who basically blew the cover off all of this for anyone willing to open their ears and minds. Wall Street calls the shots. If any insurance company can't maintain a medical loss ratio of 80/20. That is, 20% of your premiums don't go to healthcare but rather to the companies bottom line, or marketing, or bureaucracy.

I take my chances with a tweaked Medicare program for all rather than sacrificing my health to Goldman Sachs, et al.

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