The Dutchess County Health Care Petition sign now

May 29th, 2005 marks the sixth anniversary of the death of my stepfather, Bob ("Piggy") Malstrom from heart attack at 59-- way too young.

Though he worked most of his adult life (much of it for IBM), he didn't have health insurance at the end, and was too proud to go to anyone for help, though he knew something was wrong with his health. The CPR I gave him in his last dying minutes failed (we had no AED here; more on this below).

Bob's not alone, though.

In 2002 the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine found in their "Care without Coverage: Too Little, Too Late" study that 18,314 Americans die each year because they lack preventative services, a timely diagnosis or appropriate care. This includes about 1,400 people with high blood pressure, 400 to 600 with breast cancer and 1,500 diagnosed with HIV. Odds are the number of deaths is even higher.
[see http://books.nap.edu/books/0309083435/html/161.html#pagetop]

Enough is enough, friends.

We have a health care crisis in this country, state, and county, pure and simple-- and there's no time like the present for us to pull together to work to turn this around.

A first step is collecting stories from people here in Rhinebeck, Clinton, and across Dutchess County who don't have health insurance (please share yours with us to help us make a difference on this issue)!

Scroll down just a bit to see the seven ways we suggest our county could be pro-active on this issue (including following Ulster County's example and setting up a discount AED purchase plan through our county for local residents and businesses).

A 2001 Dyson Foundation/Marist Institute survey found uninsured in one of every four households here in the Hudson Valley. Basic insurance costs for individuals range anywhere from $350 and above per month, while a family plan is over $1000 per month and is too prohibitive for most residents.
[DysonFoundation.org/resources/resources_show.htm?doc_id=212586]

80 percent of those without health insurance have jobs or live in working families, according to the Cover the Uninsured Week, a national coalition that includes both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and A.F.L.-C.I.O.
[CovertheUninsuredWeek.org]

Less than two years ago an ABC News/Washington Post survey of over 1000 Americans found that 80 percent of us say it's more important to provide health care coverage for all Americans-- even if it means raising taxes-- than to hold down taxes but leave some people uncovered.
[http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/US/healthcare031020_poll.html]

"A study by the United Hospital Fund concluded 410,000 children are eligible for Medicaid and Child Health Plus coverage but aren't getting it, along with 870,000 adults who are eligible for Medicaid or Family Health Plus [we obviously need to do more to cut the red tape!]...an estimated 1.3 million of the state's uninsured are eligible for coverage under existing programs -- enough to close the ranks of the uninsured by an astounding 44 percent...New York has 2.9 million uninsured residents, who last year cost hospitals $1.7 billion in so-called uncompensated care." [$908,000 in 2002 alone at Northern Dutchess Hospital, $4.1 million at St. Francis Hospital, and $1.7 million at Vassar Brothers Hospital]
["New York's Uninsured Need Not Be" by Mary Beth Pfeiffer (9/03
Poughkeepsie Journal): PoughkeepsieJournal.com/projects/uninsured/index.shtml]

Check out DidYouRealize.org and CitizensforUniversalHealthCare.org for the fine work of Art Richter and others on these issues as well-- and BenefitsRestoration.org for efforts on behalf of retirees to make sure they get the health benefits they were promised from IBM and other companies.

Lastly, please pass this petition on to all you know!

"Never underestimate the ability of a small group of people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead

Let my stepfather's death not be in vain.

Thanks.

Joel Tyner
Cofounder, Real Majority Project
County Legislator
Clinton/Rhinebeck
324 Browns Pond Road
Staatsburg, N.Y. 12580
(845) 876-2488

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Seven things our County Legislature should act on:

[Contact our County Legislature at 486-2100, [email protected], or [email protected] to let yourself be heard on these.]


1. AED (automated external defibrillator) bulk discount rate program for our county (as already in Ulster County-- more on this below).


2. Current price surveys for prescription drugs and report card on area hospitals at our county's Consumer Affairs website (as already in Westchester County-- see WestchesterGov.com/Consumer).


3. Health insurance commission for group rate discounts for county residents, as area Chambers of Commerce do now (commission formed for this in Ulster County-- more on this below).


4. Health Security Act (as now proposed for NYC, CT, PA)-- level the playing field for responsible employers; get large employers to pay for health care for their employees if they don't now-- because we taxpayers end up ultimately footing the bill for this. This has been documented in California with taxpayer subsidies for employees of Wal-Mart because that company doesn't take care of its employees properly re: health insurance benefits (more on this below).


5. Save tax dollars by reimbursing county employees for prescription drugs they can opt to buy from Canada-- this has proven to be safe, and saves money for all concerned (as already in Schenectady & Rensselaer counties-- see WSTM.com/Global/story.asp?S=3074391).


6. Request that the state help counties like ours save on Medicaid by bargaining down the cost of prescription drugs, as even Assemblyman Joel Miller is now calling on Albany to do, and as twenty other states do already.

See ABetterChoiceforNY.org-- there are more than a hundred groups across the state that have called for ending unfair tax loopholes for large retail chain stores and other similar corporations as part of the statewide Better Choice Budget Coalition: Dutchess Outreach, Hopewell Citizens for Clean Water, New York Statewide Senior Action Council, New York State Alliance for Retired Americans, Children's Defense Fund, American Academy of Pediatrics, New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, CSEA, AFSCME, Public Employees Federation, New York State United Teachers, National Education Association, National Association of Social Workers, SEIU Local 200 United, Communication Workers of America, Local 1180, New York State Labor-Religion Coalition, Interfaith Alliance, Interfaith Impact of New York State, New York State Episcopal Public Policy Network, Hunger Action Network of New York State, Citizen Action of New York, SENSES, et. al.


7. Request that state have a Health Care Options Commission to look at different ways of extending health insurance to all in the state, whether through the private or public sector (A.6575)...[call state legislators and Gov. Pataki directly on this toll-free at (877) 255-9417].

A.6575 would create a legislative commission on health coverage reform to examine, evaluate and make recommendations concerning mechanisms for comprehensive health coverage to all state residents.

States such as Maine, California, Maryland, and Illinois have effectively used such commissions as forums for the development of consensus and analysis and evaluation of policy choices.

The Commission proposal for our state has been endorsed by the StateWide Senior Action Congress of Senior Citizens, NYS Nurses Association, NYPIRG, Physicians for a National Health Plan (NY), Rekindling Reform, Hunger Action Network of NYS, Capital District Area Labor Federation, SEIU 1199, Community Service Society, American Medical Student Association (Albany Med and Cornell), Rochester Interfaith Health Coalition, ES2, SENSES, NASW NYS, UJA Federation of
NY, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Public Health Association of NYC, Professional Staff Congress (CUNY), Metro Health NY, Western NY Health Care Campaign, NYS Health Care Campaign, Citizen Action, Working Families Party,, Housing Works, and the State Communities Aid Association.

The Commission proposal is also co-sponsored by some forty members of the Assembly; it would establish a joint Senate-Assembly bipartisan panel to, over a two-year period, look at ways to expand quality health care coverage to all New York residents; the groups are seeking $500,000 in the State Budget to fund the Commission's work. A legislative commission on health coverage reform would be
created to examine, evaluate, and make recommendations concerning mechanisms for providing comprehensive, affordable, quality health coverage to all New Yorkers while simultaneously controlling costs and ensuring freedom of choice for consumers; it would be charged with exploring both publicly-financed approaches as well as how to expand on private sector ones.

[much of above from http://www.hungeractionnys.org/release_305.htm ;
http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A.6575 ;
http://www.citizensforuniversalhealthcare.org]

************************************************

1. AED bulk discount rate program for our county (as in Ulster County)

[Tyner originally submitted resolution last October for this to happen here in our county-- we should delay no longer!]

"Ulster County Program Makes Defibrillators Easier to Obtain"
by Hallie Arnold [Daily Freeman 5/5/05]

"Ulster County residents and businesses now can purchase automated external defibrillators at bulk-rate prices thanks to a deal negotiated by the county with distributors of the machines.

'It's in its infancy right now," Legislator Robert Parete said of the program. 'Obviously, I would love to see people taking as much advantage of this is as possible.'

Parete, D-Boiceville, came up with the idea of negotiating bulk-rate prices for defibrillators, a resolution passed unanimously by the county Legislature last November, about a month after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of the devices without a prescription. The FDA action has allowed businesses and private citizens to buy the devices.

The issue is particularly dear to Parete. At age 25, he was diagnosed with a heart condition that required him to have an internal defibrillator implanted in his chest. He says the device saved his life.

Through the county program, consumers and businesses will be able to buy automated external defibrillators at a greatly reduced price. Businesses will be able to buy public-access models for $1,470, and consumers will be able to buy a personal-use model called the HeartStart Home defibrillator for $999. The HeartStart Home defibrillator purchased without the discount from the manufacturer, Philips Medical Systems, costs $1,495.

The American Heart Association recommends the widespread use of automated external defibrillators, which it credits for increasing the survival rate for cardiac arrest sufferers from less than 2 percent, when cardiopulmonary resuscitation alone is applied, to more than 80 percent.

In addition, 22 of the devices will be installed in county facilities. Working with the Ulster County Sheriff's Office, the Kingston Fire Department and the Civil Service Employees Association, county employees will be trained to use the devices. Training will also be made available to the public.

Individuals may buy home defibrillators by contacting G.E. Pickering Inc. of Sea Cliff, N.Y. at (800) 492-0255, toll-free. Businesses can purchase the public-access model by contacting CSS One of Congers, N.Y. at (845) 268-7946. To receive the bulk-rate price, buyers should mention that they're part of the Ulster County program."

---------------------------------------------------

As Ulster County Legislator Rob Parete [D-Boiceville] says:

"It will be a successful plan if it saves a single life.

It's interesting, the county will not spend a penny for the home-use model.

The county acts as the bulk-rate administrator -- residents purchasethe devices directly from the company.

Also, there is the liability issue. Before Federal and State Good Samaritan laws were passed, the liability fell on first responders.

Now, liability is falling on municipalities,for example, for not having these devices on-site.

So, it makes total sense to have these devices located everywhere. "

"FDA Approves Home Defibrillators" [CBS News/Associated Press 9/16/04]
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/09/16/health/main643944.shtml

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3. Health insurance commission for group rate discounts for county residents, as area Chambers of Commerce do now (commission formed in Ulster County)

All of the Chambers of Commerce in our area allow their members to
buy health insurance at deep discounts through group rates. There was also a similar suggestion from one of the table groups at our county's Workforce Investment Board conference last month. According to Legislator Rob Parete: "State law currently prohibits the county to administer any group health program for residents, but it is possible that an insurance company could act as a third-party administrator. Insurance companies might charge for this, but they would charge the individual who is purchasing the plan as part of the premium. It would not cost the county a dime. A county committee should develop a plan to put out an RFP (request for proposal) to various insurance companies who might be interested in administering a county wide program."
[from "Health Care For Us All?" The Olive Press 10/9/03
http://www.phoeniciatimes.com/archivesOP/op10.9.03/followup.html#opt109031 ;0
note-- the county could even make money off such a plan!]

*****************************************

4. Health Security Act for Dutchess County (as now proposed for New York City)

What do D'Agostino Supermarkets, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the
Brennan Center for Justice all have in common?

They all support the Health Care Security Act in NYC!

What does that have to do with Dutchess County, you ask?

Well-- there are plenty of businesses here in our county who are now being punished because they help pay for their employees' health insurance, while their competitors (like Wal-Mart) don't do nearly enough.

There's nothing stopping our County Legislature from passing similar legislation to address this most unhealthy dynamic here!

See more at http://nychealthcaresecurity.org .

Recall-- we end up paying higher local taxes for services those workers need in this case-- see more than 20 reports from across the country on this; a
University of California study recently found that, "the average Wal-Mart worker required $730 in taxpayer-funded healthcare and $1,222 in other forms of assistance, such as food stamps and subsidized housing, to get by."
[ http://www.livingwagecampaign.org/index.php?id=1953 ;
http://www.livingwagecampaign.org/index.php?id=1952 ;
http://www.NewRules.org/retail/news_slug.php?slugid=258 ]

Other pertinent links:
http://www.citizensforuniversalhealthcare.org
http://www.nyjwj.org/healthcare.html
http://www.jwj.org/LocalCoal/NY.htm#c
http://nychealthcaresecurity.org/docs/Glied.pdf
http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A.6575
http://www.hungeractionnys.org/release_305.htm

Note as well-- that Connecticut and Pennsylvania are now considering this as well-- getting large employers to pay for health care for their employees if they don't now, because we taxpayers end up ultimately footing the bill for this
[see CovertheUninsuredweek.org].

This information below is from the CoverTheUninsuredWeek.org Weekly News Digest:

Connecticut and Pennsylvania Join States Considering Employer Mandates:
Contention is that taxpayers end up paying insurance of employees not covered by large firms

Source(s): Stephen Singer, Associated Press (May 8); Amy Worden, Philadelphia Inquirer (May 16)

In what the National Conference of State Legislatures calls the "new trend," legislators in eight states are considering requiring big businesses to cover the health care costs of low-wage workers, reports the Associated Press. In Connecticut, a recent report said that Wal-Mart, Stop & Shop, and Dunkin' Donuts were among top businesses in the state whose workers rely on public health coverage. Organized labor and other advocates contend that big businesses that fail to provide health coverage to their employees are forcing taxpayers to foot the bill through public programs, while business lobbyists say that most employers in Connecticut provide "generous benefits to their workers." Under the proposed legislation, businesses with 5,000 or more employees13 companies in the statewould be required to pay a "health security surcharge" for each low-income worker, and those who already provide coverage would receive a credit against the surcharge for each employee covered.

In another effort to mandate that large employers "pay their fair share of health care costs," Pennsylvania is considering a bill that would require companies with 20 or more employees to issue annual reports on how many of them receive Medical Assistance, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The bill particularly targets Wal-Mart, which Democratic Representative Mike Veon, a co-sponsor of the bill, calls "the most notorious abuser of Medical Assistance programs nationwide." The company defends its program, saying it provides health care for more than half of its employees, and "opens a route off state Medicaid rolls." Business groups in Pennsylvania and elsewhere oppose such legislation. "Instead of looking at how many employees are on Medical Assistance, we should look at reasons why companies can't afford health insurance," said Kevin Shivers, Pennsylvania director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

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