It was an eye-opener to learn that during their year of negotiations with Empire/ Blue Cross 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 antitrust 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 cases 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.
The family of Bob Conklin wishes to thank all those who contributed to the cost of the plaque that was dedicated to him at the Grangebel Park rock ramp fish passage.
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?