Healthcare Is The Election's Pivot Point
For Republicans, the overriding issue in the health care debate is the chronic cost increase in government-funded health care. The challenge for Democrats is providing universal health care, which many fear may have unbounded effects on both cost and care. Both misunderstand the underlying condition: Health care in America, and America alone among rich nations, is no longer affordable and thus limits its accessibility and effectiveness while increasing its cost.
Total health care spending in America per person was $8,362 in 2012 for an average life expectancy of 78.2 years. Canada, by contrast, spent an average of $4,404 per person for a life expectancy of 80.7 years. For Germany, France and Great Britain, costs per person tend to be even lower. Why is U.S. health care, and by extension the insurance premiums that pay for health care, so expensive and yet fails to deliver appropriate standards of medical care?
The Census bureau reports that 48.6 million Americans are uninsured in 2012. How does this affect insurance premiums? Insurance works best when one group of people subsidizes another. Car insurance works because not everyone has accidents consistently and simultaneously. When insurance companies pay the related costs of an accident, they have the premiums from other drivers to offset that loss. The same applies to health insurance, which is dependent on healthy people to subsidize those in greater medical need. Without this offset, the sick are essentially insuring the sick.
In a perverse feedback loop, as costs begin to rise, healthy families give up health insurance, thereby decreasing the number of people paying insurance premiums and increasing everyone's cost. This not only forces families to gamble with their health and health-related emergencies, but also denies them access to regular treatment and checkups. Should uninsured people fail to treat the onset of simple medical problems, their health might deteriorate until they are forced to seek medical help from hospital emergency rooms. A minor problem thus grows into a major expense. As uninsured Americans are driven to use the ER as their last resort health care alternative, both the insured and the uninsured suffer from longer wait times, reduced access to emergency care and higher costs.
America needs to ask what kind of return we should expect for the amount of money we spend on health care. The quality of our health is not directly improved by the number of procedures performed or other erroneous metrics that insurance companies favor. It is improved by the steady, consistent treatment and counsel we receive from our health care professionals throughout our lives and by the access we have to their services. Currently, health care spending in the U.S. is 18 percent of GDP, which is significantly higher than the 9.5 percent average among similarly wealthy countries. Yet we have not arrested the growth in spending, but only reduced the rate at which it grows annually.
The cumbersome state of our health care industry has forced many practitioners to provide a diminished form of care due to relentless cost cutting procedures yet our premiums continue to rise. Despite this ongoing trend, insurance company profits such as those of Kaiser Permanente have risen 8.3 percent in 2011.
It is a fallacy to assume that the solution for better care will stem from further unfettered competitive forces within our health care industry.
Why I Am Running For The 10st Assembly District...
It has been an honor to serve in the New York State Assembly over the past two years. In spite of the much touted dysfunction in Albany over the years and the continuing ethics issues that have plagued our state, there remain some good people on both sides of the aisle trying to reform and re-create our once revered status as the Empire State.
The 101st Assembly District has been universally described as the worst example of partisan gerrymandering. It spans seven counties from Oneida County in Central New York to Orange County in the Hudson Valley. Traversing this long narrow district through the heart of New York has its challenges, but has also presented many opportunities to unite us as New Yorkers and to bridge the gap from upstate to downstate.
Across the district, all seem to agree that in order to revitalize our economy, we need to create jobs in the private sector. We need to lower taxes, reduce the size of government and provide reform to our educational system.
In my first term, I introduced bills that would reform Medicaid, the single biggest cost driver to the state compounding at the rate of one billion dollars per week. I supported a bill that reduced middle income taxes rates to their lowest in 58 years. There is still much work to be done to reform education and to reduce unfunded mandates and it will take someone with experience, courage and commitment.
During my first term, I was rated one of the most independent members of the legislature based on my voting record. I proved that I have the courage to stand up against the Albany elite and continued to fight for less government, lower taxes, less regulation, unfunded mandate relief and protection of our Second Amendment rights.
This fall, I was the first member of the legislature to call for the resignation of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for using our tax dollars in a sexual harassment cover-up scheme. The Governor claims that New York is now open for business. I hope he will join me in asking for the Speaker's resignation since all New Yorker's, men and women alike, should be free from a hostile work environment.
I look forward to your support this election day so that we may work together to bring real transformation to New York.
Sullivan Pledges Open Representation
This newspaper wrote a "correction" for County Legislator R.J. Smith referring to another article which stated the facts about R.J. Smith's voting record. Contrary to the almost half page "correction," here are the facts which my opponent denies while trying to confuse the public with political spin.
When there is a tough decision to be made, Smith goes along with his party and County Executive Ed Diana.
Smith won't be clear on his position on Valley View Nursing Home, but on October 4, 2012, my opponent voted against a resolution which would have called for Valley View to be open for the next two years.
Smith backed the easy decision to create investigative committees for Valley View Nursing Home and for the Orange County Government Center. But when it came to enforcing the subpoena to have Diana testify before the Valley View Committee, he backed down. On July 19, 2012, he cast the deciding vote against enforcing the subpoena. Smith put his loyalty to his party and Ed Diana above his duty to enforce the law and find the truth.
Instead, Smith pushed for another closed door meeting between Ed Diana and Valley View management, even though he knew that the public demanded transparency. And as everyone knows, talk is cheap when it does not have to be under oath in public view.
The same is true with the Government Center. On May 3, 2012, Smith voted to begin construction and voted for the bonding on Diana's new expensive Government Center without examining all the facts. Again, Smith voted with Diana and his party placing loyalty above common sense and his duty to represent the district first.
Those that have followed my record on the Pine Bush School Board and as Chair of the Town of Wallkill Master Plan Review Committee know my independence and willingness to make the tough decisions.
I have been steadfast and clear in my support to keep Valley View open as a County owned and run facility. I have been steadfast and clear against a new expensive Government Center and in support of saving over 30 million dollars by renovating the existing building.
I pledge to be your County Legislator. I will represent you – the citizens of the Towns of Wallkill and Crawford — not a political party and not Ed Diana.
I ask for your vote next Tuesday, November 6th. Thank you.
Gibson's Cool & Collected
I had the pleasure to drive all the way to the Rensselaer County from here in Sullivan to watch the second of three NY 19 Congressional Debates. That long drive was definitely worth it. What I saw was a stark difference between the candidates. Congressman Gibson was calm, cool, and collected and always referenced facts, votes, and other concrete actions that he has taken while in his first term. As opposed to his opponent, who often harped on the same talking points regardless of the question, never actually presenting a plan for things from saving Medicare to avoiding the fiscal cliff to encouraging job creation, Chris was solid and confident about his record. He supported the construction of the Keystone pipeline without the use of eminent domain to implement it, he supported the three fair trade agreements signed by the President, he supported the bipartisan JOBs Act signed by the President, he supports cutting or maintaining the current tax rates for EVERYONE. Chris is a bipartisan leader, something sorely needed today. He is well-respected from both sides of the aisle, while his opponent not only demonizes Conservatives and Republicans; he has ostracized half of his own Democratic Party in Ulster County!
The debate was a clear win for Chris. I encourage everyone to watch it at http://video.wmht.org/video/2293536748/ and vote Gibson in November.
Schreibman Looks Forward
The stakes are incredibly high in our district's Congressional election on November 6, and the positions of the two candidates, Julian Schreibman and Chris Gibson, could not be farther apart. Congressman Gibson, the Republican candidate, has served one term representing the 20th district and is now running in our newly redrawn 19th district. On the most important issues, his voting record would take our district and our country in the wrong direction.
Gibson supports getting rid of the Department of Education and voted to gut funding for Pell grants that have helped make college affordable to me and to middle class families for generations. As a mother of three young boys, I am keenly aware of how much their future depends on a good education in this highly competitive globalized economy. Schreibman prioritizes education and will take us forward. Gibson will set us back.
Gibson voted for the Paul Ryan budget, which would turn Medicare into a voucher system and weaken Social Security. As a daughter of two aging parents with young children of my own, I know that compromising these programs would cause financial stress to us and to other families with elder members. Schreibman will protect these valuable programs. Gibson will set us back.
On women's rights and women's health, Gibson voted to criminalize abortion in the District of Columbia even in cases of rape and incest, to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, and to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides vital health care services for women and nutritional support for millions of newborn babies. Schreibman will push for continued improvements in the conditions and status of women in our country, while Gibson will set us back.
Gibson voted to protect tax breaks to Big Oil, which tells us a lot about both his energy and spending priorities. As a taxpayer, I want to see my tax dollars benefiting ordinary citizens in my community and not multinational corporations. I don't mind paying for fiscal incentives and programs as long as they support a sustainable energy future and a strong and resilient local economy. Julian Schreibman will support the family farmers and local businesses of our district, and will promote policies that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. This is the direction we should be going, and these are the reasons why I'm voting for Julian Schreibman.
In Support Of Stephan Schick
I would respectfully like to state two reasons why Stephan Schick should be elected one of the New York State Supreme Court Justices of the 3rd Judicial District.
First, Mr. Schick is highly qualified and experienced as head of Sullivan Legal Aid, which supervised the representation of litigants in over 10,000 Family Court cases and 60,000 county court cases. As such, he is understanding and compassionate, but also a straight talker advising of the hard reality of legal situations.
The second reason to vote for Mr. Schick — to me and many more out there — is equally important.
The 3rd Judicial District is huge. It extends from Sullivan County on the western corner through Ulster, Schoharie, Greene, Columbia, to Albany and Rensselaer counties in the northeast. As the crow flies that is approximately 100 miles across, or a two hour drive.
Sullivan County does not have an elected "resident" judge.
There is a "revolving" Supreme Court Judge system, whereby judges are assigned to drive from their home county to outlining counties. For example, one justice frequently drives from Troy in Rensselaer County to Monticello in Sullivan County for pre-trial conferences with local attorneys and other judicial duties.
In the interest of justice, efficiency, for safety (you know what it is like to drive through the Catskills in the winter) and simple practicality, please consider Stephan Schick for Supreme Court Justice.
One other note of interest. The last justice from Sullivan Country, the Hon. Anthony Kane, was appointed to the Appellate Division. Before him, Lawrence H. Cooke was a distinguished Chief Judge on the Court of Appeals. And the first female Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, Hon. Judith Kaye, was raised in Sullivan County and graduated from Monticello High School.
Please consider your vote for Stephan Schick for Supreme Court Justice. I am voting for him, even as a Republican.
William A. Brenner, Esq.
GOP Judges Forever...
The Counties of Sullivan, Columbia, Greene, Ulster, Schoharie, Albany and Rensselaer are fortunate to have two outstanding judges running for re-election to the New York State Supreme Court: Bud Malone and E. Michael Kavanagh.
I was the New York State Police forensic pathologist who worked with then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Bud Malone in 1994 when he found the skeletonized body buried in the Adirondacks of a 16 year old schoolgirl who had been kidnapped, raped and murdered eight years earlier. He then was able to conduct a very complicated investigation and successful prosecution.
I also worked with Mike Kavanagh investigating murders when he was Ulster County District Attorney. Both judges clearly possess the knowledge, experience, integrity and fairness necessary in these difficult times to maintain the highest standards of judicial activity.
Justices Malone and Kavanagh are the only candidates who have received the highest ratings from the New York State Independent Judicial Election Qualifications Commission and the Albany County Bar Association.
Michael M. Baden, M.D.
New York, NY
Smith's Remarks Were Offensive
I just watched the O.C. Legislature debate sponsored by Team Watch between candidates Roseanne Sullivan and Richard Smith on Youtube. Smith's remarks concerning unemployed residents and teachers are not only offensive but down right dirty. Smith's lowdown and desperate insult is a true kick to the middle class population which has been hit the worst by the economy and unemployment in Orange County.
When Smith said, "Do you want somebody representing you who has decades of experience in business or do you want an unemployed teacher?," I gasped and so did the audience. Really? Was this desperate show of character the only reaction he could conjure up to Sullivan's facts regarding the issues?
I appreciate Sullivan's response that we are not electing a real estate executive but a true representative. Please join me on November 6 in voting for Roseanne Sullivan to represent the towns of Wallkill and Crawford in the O.C. Legislature.
Says Sullivan Is Unfit For Office
I have seen the negative, attack style tactics that Roseanne Sullivan is running in her bid to become a county legislator. That a person who has accomplished so little would denigrate a person who has done so much for our community, only proves that she's unfit for office. We don't need more partisan politics in County Government. RJ Smith is the person who brings people together, not divides them.
Councilwoman, Town of Crawford
Support's Sullivan's Dedication & Commitment
I became acquainted with Roseanne Sullivan about two years ago when she was President of the Pine Bush School Board. Her dedication and commitment to our young people was evident. I realized how fortunate our young people and community is having Roseanne Sullivan on our School Board.
Roseanne is now running for county legislator. She has been a member of the school board for 16 years, serving at times as the Vice President and President. Roseanne is a former educator teaching English for 5 years as well as teaching at-risk students in various subject areas. Her involvement in various organizations in the community is extensive.
Roseanne believes that Valley View should remain a county-owned facility and pledges her support for renovation of the County Government Center. Roseanne is dedicated, honest, willing to listen, approachable and has impeccable values. She is the fresh face and voice needed today in our political arena. I can think of not one better to serve the people in the towns of Crawford and Wallkill as their County Legislator. I ask that you cast your vote for Roseanne Sullivan on November 6th.
Ida E. Gage
Sierra Club Endorsements Matter
As our local weather gets stranger and stranger, I think that more people are becoming aware how dependent we are on the natural world. We need politicians who understand the necessity to protect our farmland and other open space, who vehemently oppose fracking because of the water and air pollution observed in other states where fracking is now being done, who want to help us sever our dangerous and ever more expensive dependence on fossil fuels, who see the jobs available for local people from installing solar panels and wind turbines.
The Sierra Club, founded in 1892, is the nation's oldest and largest environmental organization with approximately 45,000 members in New York State alone; its Mid-Hudson Group has over 1,900 members. In state legislature races the Sierra Club has endorsed Terry W. Gipson, Democrat, 41st Senate District race; Cecilia Tkaczyk, Democrat, in the 46th Senate District; Kevin Cahill, Democrat, for re-election in the 103rd Assembly District; Frank Skartados, Democrat, for re-election in the 104th Assembly District; Paul Curran, Democrat, 105th Assembly District; Didi Barrett, Democrat, for re-election in the 106th Assembly District. Julian Schreibman has been endorsed for the new 19th Congressional district seat and Kirsten Gillibrand has been endorsed for a full term as federal senator.
I am glad that volunteers in the various levels of the Sierra Club have done the work of separating glib statements from true environmentalism. I'll be using this endorsement list to guide my voting in November and I suggest that you do the same.
Andi Weiss Bartczak
Problems With Schreibman...
Among the many factors influencing the way we vote — for a certain candidate or another — I believe the strongest are our backgrounds and personal experiences.
As I've written before, living for 30 years under a Communist dictatorship equipped me with sensors for detecting propaganda, staging, mind manipulation, lies, brainwashing, a "leader's" desire for control and power, the intent to take away people's rights.
When we detect these symptoms, it doesn't matter if one is Republican or Democrat, Conservative, Independent or non-enrolled. We need to exit the comfortable zone of party affiliation and enter the realm of right and wrong; and doing something wrong — that affects the lives of many — destroys the TRUST we must have in a candidate or elected official.
Unfortunately, in 2009, four Ulster County party chairs — Len Bernardo (Independence), Mario Catalano (Republican), Ed Gaddy (Conservative), and Julian Schreibman (Democratic) — struck a dirty deal and all endorsed the SAME four candidates for four seats on ALL four party lines. Even today it sounds incredible!
Len Bernardo assured his wife's election as legislator. What benefits Mr. Schreibman was counting on when agreeing to such deal? Now, Julian Schreibman is running for Congress, challenging Congressman Chris Gibson, and the TRUST issue comes into play.
How can we trust Schreibman, who made possible a dictatorial-type of deal in our county, hurting candidates and members of all parties, taking away people's right to choose? How can we trust him when as chairman he caused embarrassment to his own party because of the deal which has serious consequences even today?
Luckily, our choice in the 19th Congressional District is Chris Gibson, a decorated 24-year Army veteran from Columbia County. For those who didn't read yet about Gibson: he earned a BA from Sienna College, a PhD from Cornell University and was a professor at West Point. He is donating his military pension back to the U.S. Treasury while serving in Congress. Focusing on local issues is exemplified by his fighting for Upstate priorities, including family farms, broadband and Lyme Disease prevention; also, leading the bipartisan storm relief effort to help our communities rebuild and recover. He is protecting Medicare, Social Security and programs for seniors and veterans and supporting legislation to grow the economy, create jobs and balance the budget.
Meeting and talking to Chris Gibson in person at Rochester's Jennie Bell Pie Festival made me firmly believe he is the right choice for our district. Being in the audience during the debate in Kingston, I witnessed how — despite being continuously attacked — Gibson did not respond in a similar way but, to the contrary, showed how passionate he is about bi-partisanship.
During the same debate, the issue of trust was painfully obvious: How can we trust somebody so obviously partisan in his attacks towards Congressman Gibson to miraculously change and become non-partisan in Washington?!
Judging only by his 24 years of military service, four Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, I'm convinced that Gibson genuinely desires to serve. I'm happy to give my vote to a true hero, somebody we can trust.