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Featuring Congressman Barney Frank on Preventing Medicare cuts

Thoughts & Solutions for Health Care Service and Health Issues in the USA

Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012

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Summer, 2012


Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012

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Pledge to Our Readers

Sturdy photo by Andrew Meehan; Beach photo by Christine Meehan (top)

Although this magazine is edited and put together by Democrats, we aspire that anyone of any political affiliation can read and enjoy the Attleboro Democracy. Contact us at: attleborodemocracy@gmail.com

Attleboro’s local premier health care provider, Sturdy Memorial Hospital

Features p. 4 The Constitutionality of “Obama-care”

A legal argument on behalf of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. By Michael E. Levinson ______________________________________________

p. 7 A Medical Condition, Not a Moral Failure

Prescription drug addiction, a rising epidemic, has pressing solutions. By Paul Heroux ________________________________________

The View From Washington:

p. 9 Saving Medicare from Congressional Cuts .

Some in Congress seek to cut Medicare as a means of ending the U.S. deficit. By Congressman Barney Frank

political persuasion

13 Scott Brown for a 2nd term? Lee Harrison Attleboro health

15 consolidation & Quality:the key Jim Humphrey

16 Principles of health care reform Ray Drewnowski

19

Body image vs. health Emily Meehan

20 6-pack or a 6 week concussion? Andrew Meehan

Boston and Beyond 21

Real results that mattrer State Senator Dick Moore

23

Reducing health care costs State Rep. Tom Conroy

25 The neighbor column: Walpole William Buckley

Humor & Satire 26 How I helped invent Romney-care A “True Story” “John Finley”

The Politics of Culture 28 Game of Thrones & American Politics By Andrew Meehan

30

31

.

________________________________________________

p. 11 The New GI Bill

In replicating the “Greatest Generation,” the “Latest Generation” of the U.S. military can benefit from a college education. By Carl Bradshaw Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012

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By

The Attleboro Democracy Presents: The Health Issue - Summer, 2012

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Constitutional By Michael E. Levinson

Is “Obama-care” constitutional? The Supreme Court has its own opinions, but so do writers for the Democracy. Here’s a constitutional argument for “Obama-care.” ON MARCH 23, 2010, PRESIDENT BARACK

attacking the law with false claims that it was

OBAMA SIGNED INTO LAW THE PATIENT

"unconstitutional." What has ensued during

PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT,

that time has been a slew of Federal Court

OR PPACA. Shortly after its enactment,

lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the

however, conservative special interest groups

law, ultimately culminating in a series of cases

and Republicans across the nation began

heard by the United States Supreme Court

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earlier this year - National Federation of

enumerated powers granted to Congress.

Independent Business v. Sebelius and Florida v.

These "other enumerated powers" presumably

United States Department of Health and

include the power to regulate commerce

Human Services.

among the states (as described above), and

The crux of the constitutional challenge to the

PPACA

stems

from

the

"individual

mandate" requirement of the law which

the combination of these two provisions provide the constitutional backdrop upon which the PPACA was enacted.

requires everyone in the United States to

In its brief submitted to the United States

obtain minimal health care insurance or be

Supreme Court, the United States Department

subjected to certain tax penalties. Despite the

of

seemingly endless legal wrangling over this

governmental agency named as the party in

groundbreaking

of

the recent case before the United States

legislation, a review of the precedent involving

Supreme Court, hereinafter termed the "HHS")

the constitutional provisions under which the

provided ample support for the government's

law was enacted shows that constitutionality of

position that the regulation of health insurance

the law should not be questioned.

-

and

important

piece

Health

and,

and

specifically,

Human

the

Services

requirement

(the

for

Under Article I, Sec. 8, cl. 3 of the

everyone to own health insurance - is clearly

Constitution, Congress has the power to

"commerce" and, thus, constitutional. [All

"regulate

references to the brief submitted by the United States

Commerce...among

the

several

States." This provision of the Constitution has spurned literally hundreds of legal cases challenging Federal laws, allowing the Courts (including the Supreme Court) to create precedent as to what constitutes "commerce." Simply put, the Courts have held that there are three separate and distinct areas which can be regulated pursuant to this provision: (a) the channels of interstate commerce (such as navigable waterways and railroad tracks); (b) the instrumentalities of interstate commerce, and persons and things in interstate commerce (such as buses and trains); and (c) activities that substantially effect interstate commerce. This third provision is where Congress is clearly granted the authority to enact PPACA. Additionally, Article I, Sec. 8, cl. 18 of the Constitution grants to Congress the right to enact "all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution" the other

Department of Health and Human Services shall be referenced as "HHS Brief." An electronic copy of the brief can be found here.]

For example, the HHS identified how the health insurance industry is a $2.5 trillion business (HHS Brief, p. 34), and proceeded to describe the countless number of economic effects which can stem from the lack of health insurance. Thus, one would be hard pressed to argue that the regulation of such a large industry was not "commerce." Further, HHS also identified the detrimental financial effects uninsured individuals cause on the healthcare system as a whole. For example, in 2008, the uninsured incurred $116 billion in medical expenses, but were able to pay through payment, government assistance, or charities - for only $73 billion, leaving $43 billion in "uncompensated care" (HHS Brief, p. 7-8). These "uncompensated care" costs are passed on by medical providers to health

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insurance companies, who in turn pass it on to

time when the object is actually affecting the

their insured in the form of heightened

interstate commerce - is wholly irrelevant.

premiums. Thus, everyone is affected by the

What's even more baffling is that the

high number of uninsured individuals in the

individual mandate is a policy that has been

United States and the detrimental financial

adopted by other conservatives in prior years.

impact such numbers have on our nation's

For example, Mitt Romney, the Republican

economy. It is clear from these statistics that

candidate for President in 2012, led the charge

the requirement for all parties to have health

to enact such a law in the Commonwealth of

insurance is a regulation on something that

Massachusetts

has

Additionally, John McCain, while he was

a

substantial

effect

on

interstate

commerce.

running

for

when

he

President

as

was a

Governor. Republican,

Despite this clear connection with interstate

campaigned on the platform of enacting an

commerce, the Republicans and conservative

individual mandate. Further, under President

special interest groups in general have fought

Clinton's presidency, during the lengthy policy

vehemently to overturn this mandate on

debate involving health insurance reform

constitutionality grounds. Interestingly, these

which

groups do not argue that health insurance

conservative

cannot be regulated. Rather, their argument

Heritage Foundation and Enterprise Institute

relies heavily upon the theory that Congress'

recommended and supported the individual

power to regulate commerce does not mean

mandate requirement. At no time was the

that it can require individuals to enter into

constitutionality of such a mandate questioned

commerce. [All references to the brief submitted by

by conservative groups - such questions only

the Respondents (the States and the individuals who

came about after a Democratic President and

have challenged the constitutionality of the law) shall be referenced "States' Brief." An electronic copy of the brief can be found here.] In other words, just because

health insurance is undoubtedly "commerce" does not mean that Congress can require individuals to purchase it. Such a shoddy and weak argument ignores years of Supreme Court precedent and fails to address the main point at issue - that something which substantially effects interstate commerce (such as health insurance) can be regulated and that Congress has the authority to enact laws that are "necessary and proper" to regulate such commerce. The timing when such regulation may be performed - at a time prior to when the object being regulated will

plagued

most

of

organizations

his

first

such

term,

as

the

a Democratically-controlled Congress enacted the mandate. In sum, politics on both sides of the aisle have driven the public debate about the regulation of this very important area of commerce. Although undoubtedly the policy questions regarding this law will last for quite some time, one cannot - in good faith - claim that the regulation of a $2.5 trillion industry does not equate to a regulation of "interstate commerce."

Simply

put,

the

politics

of

requiring such a mandate cloud the future of this very important law. ď ˇ

Michael E. Levinson is a lawyer from Attleboro.

have an effect on interstate commerce or at a Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012 Click To Return to Table of Contents

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my family, who has long suffered from back pain, also became a victim to painkillers, which many people fall victim to. He is in residential rehab with the full support of his family. Prescription drug addiction affects men and women, young and old, employed and unemployed, and those suffering from mental illness and those who don't. In short, no group is immune.

Prescription Drug Addiction: A Medical Condition, Not a Moral Failure

While I have never even had so much as a drink of alcohol in my life, (it may be hard to believe, but it's true) before you question the

A new epidemic is affecting Americans. Prescription drug addiction may be a new health issue, but it does have solutions.

type of people I surround myself with, facts are

By Paul Heroux

28,000 Americans died from unintentional

PRESCRIPTION

DRUG

ABUSE

AND

ADDICTION IS PREVALENT IN AMERICA, YET IT LURKS IN THE SHADOWS. We don't like to talk about it because of the stigma associated with it. But if you are still reading this, you probably know someone close to you affected by it. This is an issue near and dear to my family and me. My parents own pharmacies (my father's is in Attleboro and mother's is in Plainville). Both have had their share of robberies from persons suffering from drug addiction. In September 2010, there was a well-publicized case of a 17-year-old boy found nearly comatose

in

the

ceiling

of

Plainville

Prescription Center. That is my mother's store, and it wasn't the first break-in she or my father experienced. A few weeks ago, an old friend recently succumbed to a long fight with mental illness and

she

intentionally

overdosed

on

painkillers—mental illness is a serious risk factor for drug abuse. Another person close to

important and sometimes a wake-up call to the judgmental. Consider that in 2007, nearly drug poisoning, and of these, nearly 12,000 involved

prescription

pain

relievers.

Prescription drug abuse surged 400 percent from 2000 to 2010. Drug addiction is a problem that can originate with chronic mental

illness or

legitimate physical or psychological pain. Drug addiction is a medical issue, not a moral one. Drug dealing, however, is a different issue, and to be clear, a serious crime. Some people think abuse or addiction are moral issues, some a criminal issue and others a medical issue. There is a difference between use, abuse, and addiction. Drug use and non-addictive abuse are cheap thrills for your brain's dopamine receptors

(think

of

dopamine

as

the

neurotransmitter in your brain that allows you to

experience

pleasure;

without

it,

no

pleasure). However, when abuse becomes addiction, we are talking about a physically altered brain. The brain becomes incapable of producing

dopamine,

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receptors in the brain become incapable of

such a program, and there is reason to believe

receiving enough dopamine.

that the dynamics of abusing guns and

The only way for some individuals to feel

prescription drugs are very different.

any pleasure, or no pain, is through excessive

If we look at the base-rate of prescription

use of drugs. While drug experimentation may

drug abuse in our community and other

be a moral issue or an issue of poor judgment,

communities not doing this initiative, then

drug addiction is more than a moral issue. In

compare rates of prescription drug abuse after

fact, I would not describe it as a moral issue at

this initiative has been implemented, we can

all. It becomes a physical one and one that is

have some sense of whether or not this

the equivalent of a hawk sinking its talons into

initiative helped decrease prescription drug

prey.

abuse. This is a thumbnail sketch of a research

Addiction is not something that someone can just snap out of. One recent study found

design and there are a lot more details that need to be considered.

that over two-thirds of people who used illicit

The point is that when we measure

drugs for the first time in one recent year

something correctly, we can then have the

began by using prescription drugs medically.

evidence that we need to make a case for or

In 2009, the number of first-time, non-medical

against something. Measurement for public

users

(prescription

policy might seem like an academic exercise. It

opioid pain relievers, tranquilizers, sedatives,

may seem needless when someone has the

and stimulants) was about the same as the

proverbial "commonsense," which is often

number

users.

what people claim to have when they don't

second-most

have facts to offer. But I think that such

abused category of drugs in the United States,

measures are a way to get to the fact of the

following marijuana, which usually has much

matter and push good policy. And real

less serious consequences than prescription

commonsense dictates that evidence based on

drug abuse and dependence.

a measurement of the real world is far superior

of

psychotherapeutics

of

Prescription

first-time drugs

are

marijuana the

There is clearly a need for effective

to speculation or no evidence at all.

measures to prevent prescription drug abuse

The person who broke into my mother's

and addiction. The recent initiative headed by

store in 2010, Ryan, had people around him

the DEA made me first think of gun buy-back

who care and a criminal justice system that

programs. Those were attempts by local police

recognized his unique needs. He has received

to allow citizens to sell their guns to police as a

treatment, tough love, sanctions and he is

way to decrease the number of guns in a

doing much better now. Let's hope he stays

community. The hope was that it would

that way. ď ˇ

decrease gun crime. Gun buy-back programs were a failure; they did not reduce gun violence or illegal carrying. I wonder if this program will have similar outcomes. I hope not. I don't see the harm that can be done by

Paul Heroux has a B.A. in psychology and neuroscience from USC, a master's degree in public administration from the Harvard School of Government and a master's degree in criminology from the University of Pennsylvania.

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The View From Washington

One of Massachusetts’ most distinguished Congressmen details in this issue’s “View from Washington” column the need to save Medicare from Congressional cuts.

Saving Medicare from Congressional Cuts By Congressman Barney Frank

DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT – LISTEN TO

where our wealthy allies spend less than half of

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. In an editorial

what we spend as a percentage of gross

published on March 26th praising Paul Ryan,

domestic product on the military, secure in the

the Journal had this to say:

knowledge that we will protect them. Note that

“Mr. Ryan's budget would cancel the additional defense cuts of $55 billion a year under the sequester and replace them with savings in the entitlements that are the real drivers of long-term debt.” That’s

right.

The

Republican

budget

reduces Medicare and Medicaid in substantial part to provide for increased military spending. I think that the President, giving in to the pressures he receives as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, proposes more military spending than is necessary. For example, to get the votes necessary for the two-thirds majority required to ratify the Nuclear Arms Treaty in 2010, the President had to agree to tens of billions of dollars of spending on weapons that people in the Pentagon believed to be totally unnecessary. And we continue to subsidize Western Europe,

when my Republican colleagues talk about raising the retirement age for Social Security, they’re doing it in part so we can continue to provide the funding for our European allies, who are then able to have lower retirement ages for their people, because they don’t have to spend any money on the military. We need to reduce the deficit, and we should be looking seriously at specific ways of increasing the efficiency of Medicare and Medicaid; we have been working on this. Hypocritically, the Republicans in opposing President Obama’s healthcare plan denounced it as reducing Medicare spending. In fact, as is the case with the entire healthcare plan, no one has suffered any negative consequences in the two years since it has been law, giving the lie to the rhetoric about it. And I know of no one who receives Medicare – myself included – who has seen any problem as a

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result of this law.

There has been some

overdo

procedures

when

they

are

reduction in the amounts paid to some of the

themselves the owners of the entities that

insurance

Medicare

perform them; working to hold down drug

Advantage, but again, not in a way that it costs

costs, including the right to import medicine

any recipient services.

from

companies

under

I support efforts to make upper-income people contribute more both for Medicare and Social Security, but beyond that, reducing benefits or increasing the retirement age for the average citizen seems to me a great mistake. And as the Wall Street Journal makes clear, the reason for the level of reduction the Republicans

are

talking

about

in

these

important medical programs is not because of their desire to reduce the deficit, but because of their desire to reduce the deficit while increasing military spending, and protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest people in our country. When we talk of Medicare cost increases, we do not often enough note that the quality of what we are buying in medical care has also increased significantly. In my own life, nothing has improved in quality remotely as much as medical care. The food I eat, the car I drive, the bed I sleep in – these are essentially the same as they were thirty years ago from the consumer standpoint. There has been a great advance in telecommunications, although I regard the ability of people theoretically to

Canada; and some increased co-

payment requirement for the very wealthy, are all reasonable things to do.

“I support efforts to make upper-income people contribute more both for Medicare and Social Security, but beyond that, reducing benefits or increasing the retirement age for the average citizen seems to me a great mistake.”Congressman Barney Frank If we raise taxes on people in the top two percent of the country, substantially reduce the military to the point where we are not subsidizing wealthy allies but instead providing what we need for our defense, and apply sensible fiscal restraints elsewhere, we will begin to get our national debt under control. It is precisely because they do not want to touch taxes for millionaires or excess military spending that our Republican colleagues are talking about cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that are socially, economically and morally indefensible. 

bother me at all hours of the day, no matter where I am, as a very mixed blessing. But in terms of things that have had impact on our lives, medical care quality has increased enormously. That does not mean that we should not be for effective cost controls. We should look at specifics and impose them

Congressman Barney Frank is the Representative for the 4th Congressional District in Massachusetts.

where there is a good case for doing so. Removing incentives for some doctors to Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012 Click To Return to Table of Contents

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create what some have called the “Greatest

The Next Generation Benefits From Another G.I. Bill

Generation.” The G.I. Bill was an extremely important, far reaching,

and

transformative

piece

of

legislation that successfully reintegrated the millions of veterans who returned abruptly to American society after several years at war. The bill’s various components of employment and unemployment provisions, home and business loans, and educational opportunities precluded the potential disaster of veterans returning home to another depression. Its impact went beyond the transformation of college campuses and the American higher educational system; it was felt throughout American society in its growing middle class,

By Carl J. Bradshaw Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army-Retired

increasing civic engagement, democratization of political institutions, and the very definition of what it is to be American.

Like the bill passed in 1944, a new G.I. bill will allow those in the armed forces to better educate themselves. Attleboro’s veterans agent explains how.

THE END OF WORLD WAR II WOULD BRING AS MANY CHALLENGES AS REWARDS TO AMERICAN SOCIETY. Over nine million service members would return to the states after several years at war. There was no way to absorb the transition, including the rapid change to the military-industrial complex, without significant action on the part of the federal

government.

The

Servicemen’s

Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the G.I. Bill, was the country’s attempt to provide a smooth transition to a new economy. Few anticipated the impact the bill would have on American society or understood it would help

FDR signs the first GI Bill in 1944 (Public Domain Photo)

Americans entered World War II with a keen memory of the Great Depression. During that depression veterans of World War I were very vocal and demonstrative about receiving bonuses they had been promised, but never received. A veteran march on Washington D.C. in the fall of 1932 might have impacted the reelection of President Hoover. President

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Roosevelt did not want to create a similar

fully paid for while private institutions are given

situation with a much larger group of service

the opportunity to partner with the Veterans

members. Architects of the G.I. Bill put

Administration to do the same under the

together a comprehensive plan that would

Yellow Ribbon Program. Living expenses are

provide

every

augmented based on the location of the

concern a veteran could have. Along with

college attended. Books and other fees are

unemployment compensation, it was believed

also included in the bill. Veterans have up to

that providing an opportunity for a college

36 months of schooling benefits they can use

education would be a way to delay the reentry

within 15 years of discharge and may be

of thousands of veterans into the workforce

eligible to pass on their benefits to their

and provide them educational skills that might

dependents.

resources

toward

almost

later benefit American society. By the mid-

The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill is just a small

1950s over 7 million veterans had taken

measure of appreciation for the incredible

advantage of the education provisions of the

sacrifices our veterans have endured since the

bills, forever changing the American higher

horrific attacks of 9/11. It not only benefits the

education landscape.

veteran and his/her family, but also helps

These veterans would in turn change the

benefit American society with better educated

American higher education landscape as much

heroes who might not otherwise have had the

as it changed them. Colleges throughout the

opportunity to receive further education. If

country would make adjustments to their

history is a precursor to the future, we should

campus environments and curriculums to

be proud of the opportunities afforded by the

integrate millions of service members into their

most recent G.I. Bill and can expect our Latest

communities.

current

Generation to have a similar impact on the

iterations of the G.I. Bill would have varying

American higher education landscape and

impacts on several generations and American

society that was returned to us by the Greatest

society, providing opportunities for even more

Generation. ď ˇď€ 

Subsequent

and

Veterans. Many believe veterans of the Global War on Terrorism will benefit the most of any generation from the provisions of the recent G.I. Bill. The

Post-9/11

Veterans

Educational

Assistance Act of 2008 became effective on August 1, 2009. While the bill is complicated and has changed each year since, there are basic components worthy of consideration. Veterans

receive

increasing

amounts

of

benefits based on the amount of active duty served after 9/11, receiving maximum benefits

The author served 24 years in the U.S. Army and retired in 2005. He is pursuing his Doctor of Education degree at Northeastern University using the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. He is also the Director of Veterans’ Services for the City of Attleboro. Direct questions or comments to: cjbradshaw2003@aol.com. For further information on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, visit the Veterans Administration site at: http://www.gibill.va.gov/benefits/post_911_gibil l/index.html

after 36 months. Tuition at state universities is Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012 Click To Return to Table of Contents

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POLITICAL PERSUASION A Scott Brown Second Term? By Lee Harrison

Political persuasion columnist Lee Harrison discusses whether Senator Scott Brown should get another term. Whatever your political persuasion, we hope you enjoy this little bit of political persuasion. Senator Scott Brown at work campaigning. (Public Domain Photo)

AS SHAKESPEARE SAID, “WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE.” So, we should be able to make

Obama while pushing the radical Tea Party Republican agenda, which includes:

some reasonable assumptions about what

KILLING THE FUTURE: When Democrat Bill

Scott Brown would do if given free rein for a

Clinton left office in 2000, the country was at

full six-year Senate term. Let’s push aside all

peace and we had a budget surplus. George

the silliness we have to endure during a year-

Bush reversed course, pushing the country into

long

real

two unfunded wars and massive tax cuts for

consequences of your voting for Tea Party

the wealthiest Americans. Then, we had the

Republican Scott Brown in November.

2008 financial collapse on his watch. Tea Party

campaign

and

consider

the

Should he win this fall, Scott

Republicans like Scott Brown think we can

Brown’s first vote in January 2013 would be his

downsize our way to prosperity, but it’s never

most important:

happened. Look across the Atlantic. Europe is

FIRST UP.

To elect the Tea Party Without

proving austerity doesn’t work. To grow the

doubt Scott Brown would vote to reinstate

economy, we need to invest in ourselves and

Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, who

would

in the country. But Scott Brown is having none

continue to thwart a re-elected President

of that. In fact he’s repeatedly voted against

Republican leader of the Senate.

job creation, middle-class tax cuts, extending Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012 Click To Return to Table of Contents

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unemployment benefits, and raising taxes on

component of the American Jobs Act that

those who make more than $1 million dollars.

supported up to 6,300 education and first

He’s even against curtailing tax breaks for Big

responder jobs here in Mass.

Oil, hedge fund managers, and corporations

recently, Scott Brown voted with the Tea Party

shipping jobs out of the United States. A vote

Republicans to let interest rates double for

for Scott Brown is a vote to make America’s

federally subsidized student loans.

And just

shrinking middle-class disappear entirely. FRIENDING OIL & GAS: KILLING SOCIAL SECURITY:

Scott Brown

Republicans

accepted $198,000 from Big Oil and Gas while

have been fighting this wildly popular program

voting three times to protect tax breaks for

since FDR passed it in 1935. Indeed, George

that industry – the most profitable on the

Bush started his second term with an all-out

planet – and against renewable energy tax

effort to “privatize” social security. Can you

credits.

imagine where seniors would be today if Bush

companies and voted against EPA’s authority

had succeeded?

Still, stalwart Tea Partiers

to regulate carbon emissions. Voting for Scott

have a plan for an abrupt phase-out of Social

Brown is a vote for Big Oil and against the

Security. You want to kill Social Security? Vote

environment.

He also sided with dirty energy

for Scott Brown. WALL STREET’S BEST FRIEND: Even after KILLING MEDICARE:

This is another Tea

the worst financial disaster since the 1930s,

Kill Medicare by

Tea Party Republicans like Scott Brown

privatizing it. As if the private sector gives a

continue to fight real regulation of casino

hoot about your grandmother. You want to

banking. JPMorgan may have lost $3 billion

kill Medicare, vote for Scott Brown. He’ll help

recently, but the $54,155 they sent to Scott

to make it happen.

Brown indicates who’s got their back.

Party Republican dream.

Or

could it be Wall St. embraces Scott Brown KILLING PUBLIC EDUCATION:

Tea Party

Republicans hate all things government, and

simply because they’re scared of who’s running against him?

for whatever reason they really hate public school teachers. At a time when we should be

Either way, as Shakespeare also said, “The

investing in our future by spending more on

truth will out,” and when you look beyond his

public education, they want to kill it. For the

slick ads, it’s clear Scott Brown is not

billionaires

the Tea Party

independent and certainly is not for us. He

gutting public education is another way to

definitely should not get your vote for a

marginalize unions, further shrink government

second term. 

masterminding

at all levels, and strengthen their stranglehold over all of us. Public schools are starving. If you want to kill them off, vote for Scott Brown. He’s

already

voted

to

filibuster

a

key

Lee Harrison is the Chairman of the Berkshire Brigades, the countywide Democratic organization.

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communicate with insurers and patients. Glob

Health Care Affordability: Reducing Costs through Quality and Consolidation

these costs onto yearly rate increases from your insurer to pay for modern medicine (that really is doing some great things – that you of course want to have ASAP) you have spiraling health care costs that you are paying for more and more out of your pockets because your employer cannot keep pace. A simple idea is to consolidate claims systems and claim authorization systems

By Jim Humphrey

across insurers, and streamline benefits for

A few easy steps to making health care cheaper.

routine care that should not be variable across insurers. An office visit is an office visit and a claim is a claim that abides by nationally-

Consolidation IF YOU WALK INTO YOUR LOCAL PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR’S OFFICE, OR ANY SPECIALIST FOR THAT MATTER, YOU MIGHT BE STRUCK BY THE MANY INSURER’S STICKERS ON THE OFFICE ADMINISTRATORS WINDOW, OR LIST OF INSURERS THEY DO AND DON’T ACCEPT. You might see as many as 10 different insurers, each having as many as 10 base benefit designs that may have 100’s of permutations of special benefits tailored to the company

you

work

for.

Add-in

the

accepted coding, standard practice patterns, and comparable adjudication rules.

doctor’s practice can bill one system, with a standard co-pay, instead of having his staff constantly scanning a myriad of co-pay options across insurers who in turn are managing multiple multi-million dollar claims and authorization systems for comparable services the cost savings would be tremendous both for the insurer (economies of scale) and the individual doctor (lower overhead).

coordination of benefits for Medicare patients (yes you still have to fill some holes in Medicare with you’re a private insurance company’s

legislated

piece

of

the

pie),

Medicaid, and other optional medical care options and you can only wonder how the person at the desk can keep track of the varying co-pays,

deductibles,

benefit limits

and acceptable number of visits allowed across all of these insurance plans. In fact, sometimes they don’t know because they change at least yearly. This creates a significant administrative cost to each doctor to manage record, bill and

If a

Quality “Quality of Care” is the mantra behind health care reform and private insurers alike. There is significant medical waste in the health care system that runs the gamut from overuse of services, to poor regimens of hospital cleanliness that creates infections that forces people to go back to the hospital.

Keeping

people out of the hospital is a goal of insurers due to the significant cost of hospital care. High readmission rates due to quality issues to correct a poorly done procedure, or an infection that returns you to (or keeps you in)

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15 | P a g e


the hospital ends up costing you more as part of a rate increase. Can you imagine your car being brought in for a tune up or a minor

Principles for Health Care Reform By Ray Drewnowksi

repair, only to bring it back the next day for a complete engine overhaul. I think you get the message. Quality cannot also be had by maintaining your health, which is why insurers (all who are passionate about health care quality) work on incentive programs to insure you get physicals, routine care, and help you manage chronic medical problems with health care coaches and nurses. Health care quality, if controlled and improved is the “big fish” of health care costs control, and is estimated at a potential savings of up to 25% of current costs. Final Note

With America’s economic woes, improving our health care system even further is a necessity. Here are ways we can do it.

Information about your health needs to be shared, but needs to be kept confidential.

If we're going to fix our economy, we must

Great strides are being made to share

fix America's broken healthcare system - we

electronic medical records across health care

cannot afford to wait. Crushing healthcare

givers. Knowing your allergies, medical history,

costs have made it impossible to strengthen

and prescriptions you are taking at the point of

our economy, with families and businesses all

service can not only save your life, it can help

struggling to make ends meet. Reforming

diagnose something that previously a doctor

healthcare means: keeping the healthcare you

without a consolidated medical history might

have, if you like it, seeing the doctor of your

misdiagnose, or not diagnose at all.

choice, increasing the quality of care while

This

needs to get done, and is getting done as a

decreasing

costs

and

eliminating

waste,

key part of the Affordable Care Act. 

helping small businesses stay competitive, and reforming the insurance market so you will

Jim Humphrey previously worked at Pilgrim and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in the Medical Quality Assurance Department, and worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ IT department supporting Health Informatics, Health Care Reform, and Actuarial and Underwriting initiatives.

never face losing your coverage. Now is the time, to guarantee everyone access to quality, affordable healthcare.

Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012 Click To Return to Table of Contents

Affordability

16 | P a g e


Every man, woman and child in America must

be

guaranteed

access

to

Increase support for community-based

quality

health services and prevention by expanding

affordable coverage that will cover what they

the current system of community health

need to keep them healthy, provide adequate

centers, supporting safety net hospitals, and

coverage for when they need it, and protect

local public health efforts.

them from skyrocketing costs. Employer Responsibility •

The average family of four is paying

$29,000 a year for healthcare in taxes, lower wages, and out-of-pocket medical expenses. •

Business, government, and individuals must come together and share responsibility in

In 2004, half of all people filing for

solving America's healthcare crisis. Building on

bankruptcy cited medical costs as a reason.

the employer based system will help people

And in 2008, half of all home foreclosures

keep the healthcare if they like it.

were due in part to the high cost of coverage and care. •

The U.S. economy lost as much as

$207 billion in 2007 as a result of the poor health and shorter lifespans of the uninsured.

One in five American workers are

currently uninsured, having increased by about 6 million in ten years. •

Employers who choose not to provide

coverage for their employees are putting Quality Affordable Coverage for All

responsible

businesses

disadvantage •

Benefits should be the same as the

coverage that Members of Congress receive, with a guaranteed level of benefits. •

and

at

a

competitive

increasing

costs

for

everyone. •

American small businesses have seen

their health care costs grow by 30% since

Require guarantee issue of all health

2000. Seventy-three percent of small business

plans, adjusted community rating of premiums

owners are willing to contribute towards

and other insurance market reforms that

guaranteeing

provide access to all Americans without regard

coverage for their employees.

quality,

affordable

health

to health status or claims history. •

Provide sufficient subsidies for low and

Everyone Must Share Responsibility

moderate income individuals and families. •

Limit the amount of out-of-pocket

expenses,

including

deductibles

and

co-

payments. •

Employers should offer and contribute

to meaningful coverage for their employees or pay into a fund.

People in the country legally, who

Small

businesses

should

be

work hard and play by the rules, deserve

guaranteed protections to help control costs

affordable coverage and access to public

and keep them competitive. Small businesses

programs, as they do with children's health

should receive tax credits, and the smallest

insurance program (SCHIP), and subsidies.

businesses should be exempted.

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17 | P a g e


Public Health Insurance Option

Long-term and Chronic Care

The option of a public health insurance

Developing a better system to provide

plan is necessary to ensure appropriate and

long-term care and care for chronic conditions

adequate coverage, to foster choice and

will lower costs, improve quality of care and

competition, to bring down costs, and to

life, and help people stay in their homes and

assure consumers have a stable marketplace

communities.

where they

can find

quality, affordable

coverage.

In 2005, ten percent of Medicare

beneficiaries accounted for nearly two-thirds •

Every day, fourteen thousand more

Americans lose their insurance coverage

of Medicare spending. •

Medicare spent $17.4 billion in 2004

during this economic crisis - left on their own

on unnecessary or potentially preventable

in the private market.

hospital readmissions. In fact, over 19 percent

In 2008, one in six U.S. metro areas

of the Medicare beneficiaries discharged from

were dominated by one health insurer and

the hospital re-enter the hospital within 30

controlled 70 percent of HMO/PPO enrollees,

days.

severely limiting consumer choice. •

All Americans should have the choice

Between 1997 and 2006, per enrollee

to get needed care at home - 89 percent of

spending in private insurance grew 59% faster

Americans 50+ want to remain home as long

than spending in Medicare.

as possible.

Increase Choice and Competition •

A public health insurance option

Improve Care for Chronically Ill •

Chronic care must be included in

coupled with a more structured and robust

reform

private insurance market will prevent a handful

community based options under Medicare and

of companies from controlling the insurance

Medicaid.

market and help drive costs down. •

to

promote

Reforms

more

should

home

include

and

more

A public health insurance plan will

coordinated care, especially for the most

promote efficiency and innovation within the

chronically ill, especially those who are both

market, achieve lower growth through fair

Medicare and Medicaid patients.

competition, and force private insurers in the marketplace to promote efficiencies and

Healthcare Workforce Investment

innovations as well - all helping to lower costs. A public health insurance option would

Reforming America's broken healthcare

help alleviate the burden on small businesses

system requires training and upgrading the

that is forcing them to choose between cutting

healthcare workforce. Our new healthcare

health benefits and laying off employees.

system must expand its reach and capacity in

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18 | P a g e


order to deliver cost-effective, preventive and primary care to our rapidly aging population, uninsured, and underinsured Americans who currently go without adequate healthcare. •

There are more than 116,000 unfilled

nursing jobs in America's hospitals and more than 25,000 unfilled nursing jobs in our nation's nursing homes. •

To keep pace with projected demand,

our healthcare system will grow by nearly three million workers by 2016. •

Overall, the number of Americans who

need long-term care and services will increase

Body Image vs. Health

from approximately 10 million today to 15

By Emily Meehan

million in 2020 to 27 million in 2050.

When trying to get thin goes too far for teenage girls.

Invest in Jobs •

A significant federal investment in

appropriate training and education of the non-

Mental and physical health can often be at odds with each other. For instance, when it

physician workforce is needed. Training in new technologies, teams,

comes to teenage girls, less healthy physical

and systems must be provided to both

habits can often be dwarfed by concerns

incumbent

they’re constantly worrying about. One big

healthcare

workers

and

new

health issue is body image.

recruits. Support should be provided to recruit

Body image is a big thing to a girl. It affects

and train a workforce that reflects the diversity

the girl’s ways of thinking - that they need to

of the communities it serves.

have this “perfect body” to be beautiful,

whereas in reality every single person has a These principles could go a long way in helping to improve America’s health care

different body type and cannot be “model skinny.” Girls believe that beautiful is clothing sizes,

system. 

two and four. Those sizes are what the typical

Ray Drewnowski is an Administrative Organizer at 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

models wear and girls believe that you are only beautiful if you are a model. To be these sizes, girls participate in strict diets and workouts, and eating disorders. They will limit themselves what they can eat to an extreme

extent because they believe that if they eat Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012 19 | P a g e Click To Return to Table of Contents


less, they will be these sizes. Yes, in a sense,

come across have the mentality of “eating to

this logical thinking is true; however, these girls

stay fit” than “eating to stay thin.” However, I

participating in these rituals do not understand

am one that could not commit to the healthy

that their body type isn’t going to change. I

dieting so I made a promise to myself to not

see girls obsess at the gym with their workouts

change my habits, just try to live a healthy

and pushing themselves to where it appears

lifestyle by working out regularly. If I’m ever in

they could pass out.

a situation where I am starving to death, then I

There is a mentality thinking that goes along with this skinny lifestyle. Girls think that people will view them as beautiful if they were as skinny as they can be. Girls want to be

know I can always rely on a McDonald’s BicMac. 

Emily Meehan studies at Manhattan College.

skinny because Hollywood has created a new image that “a pretty girl is a skinny girl.” The Annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show is one big Hollywood event that influences girl’s views of body images. This past Victoria’s Secret Fashion show was the first one I watched with two of my friends from colleges. One of my friends, Kenza, who is a Moroccan fashionista and knows the ins and outs of world fashion, made comments that made me realize girls still view the typical Victoria’s Secret models as glamorous. She believed that to be perfect,

A Six Pack… or a Six Week Concussion?

she must appear just like these models. As I

by Andrew Meehan

was listening to these comments, I realized

Kids are being pressed now more than ever to have active lifestyles. But can they do that when their favorite sports have been shown to be more dangerous than once thought?

that many girls around the world probably have the same views as Kenza, and look to models as how they should be. I cannot attest to being one of those girls that need to be skinny to be perfect, but I can attest to being one of those girls that want to live a healthy lifestyle. In the beginning of high school I wanted to be thin, so I started to exercise. I noticed girls striving not to eat the cafeteria food because it was fattening. Throughout high school, girls would not eat to restrict their diets to salads. As I am currently in college, I have noticed that things have not changed much but the majority of girls I have

In recent months, there have been two major news stories that relate vitally to overall health, especially that of young people. The first is that of the “obesity epidemic.” According to new studies, about 42% of children could be obese by 2030 – less than twenty years from now. The second is the tragic suicide of a football player. In the beginning of May, Junior Seau, a former San Diego Chargers and New England

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20 | P a g e


Patriots

linebacker,

his

these new health issues are less apt to occur.

apartment in Oceanside, California. What

Something like tennis or track may not lead to

many

this

a lot of hard hits and thus concussions. But

happened was: His head must have been

sports like football and girls’ soccer are among

really messed up to do this. Could it have been

the most popular in the country.

football

fans

shot

himself

guessed

in

when

because of concussions? Concussions are the

It may occur that we as a society may face

newest health issue in the world of sports –

a predicament – choosing between our

and in sports like football, where heavy men

children staying physically in shape through

going full speed at each other bang their

sports that could be harmful to their mental

heads together constantly, there are a boat

health, or keeping our children’s brains whole

load of them.

at the expense of their physical fitness. 

This is not only an issue in football, but in other sports as well. In hockey, the NHL star

Andrew Meehan is the Editor of the Attleboro Democracy.

Sydney Crosby has been sidelined for over a total of about twelve months because of hits to

his

head. Meanwhile,

in

a

startling

revelation, there seems to be indications of a “concussion crisis” in girls’ soccer. Concussions are no ordinary injury. A bad hit to the head can affect the brain itself, potentially leading to problems like memory loss, an increased risk of dementia, and a higher emotional volatility. A person getting a concussion once may recover just fine, but it’s

Health Reform’s Real Results that Matter

becoming more and more clear that the brain can only take so many hits. This fact, and its implication on sports,

By Senator Richard T.

especially youth sports, creates a huge issue.

Moore

Let’s say sports where concussions and other newly discovered hazards are prevalent can’t find a way to fix themselves, making it harder

DON’T BELIEVE THOSE EDITORIALS IN THE

for younger kids to play in those sports on an

WALL STREET JOURNAL OR CLAIMS BY SOME

organized level – what happens to those kids

POLITICALLY-BIASED NATIONAL POLITICIANS

who would have been running around getting

THAT HEALTH REFORM IN MASSACHUSETTS

exercise?

obesity

IS A “BUDGET-BUSTER.” In fact, we have it on

epidemic, and if some sports are limited

very good authority that the landmark 2006

because of their health hazards, kids may be

Massachusetts Health Reform law, and its 2008

less likely to get the physical activity they need.

and 2010 enhancements, is within budget and

There are sports, of course, where many of

providing lower health insurance costs for

As

noted,

there’s

an

many Bay State residents. Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012 Click To Return to Table of Contents

21 | P a g e


The

business-backed

Massachusetts

Commonwealth Health Connector, which was

Taxpayers Foundation is certainly not a liberal

itself created by the 2006 Health Reform law,

bleeding-heart,

reported

tax-and-spend

advocacy

that

Commonwealth

results

would

again

Care

group by any standards. This highly-respected

procurement

be

research organization recently reported that,

consumer-friendly for the state fiscal year 2013

“Massachusetts has achieved near universal

that begins this July. For the second year in a

health care coverage with only modest

row, the rates we pay health insurers for

additional costs to state taxpayers.”

coverage are projected to come in 5% below

Over the five full fiscal years since the law

those of the previous year. The rates for all five

was implemented, according to the Taxpayers

of the insurers offering products will now be

Foundation, the incremental additional state

less than they were two years ago. With these

cost per year has been $91 million, an amount,

savings, the Connector is well-positioned to

they state, “that is well within projections made

accommodate over 30,000 new members over

prior to the law's enactment.”

the coming months.

As

anticipated

when

my

legislative

Additionally, the Connector has developed

colleagues and I drafted the law, health reform

a

has been largely funded by shifting spending

Patrick/Murray Administration, for providing

away

and

subsidized health insurance in Massachusetts

towards

in 2014. This proposed plan would improve

from

uncompensated

supplemental

payments

care

and

vision,

in

individuals. “Despite the claims of critics, the

Massachusetts

health reform law has not posed an undue

opportunities under the federal Affordable

burden on state taxpayers,” said Taxpayers

Care Act to promote continuity of coverage

President Michael J. Widmer. “Because the cost

and care and maximize federal funding.

been

modest,

of

the

coverage

have

tens

with

traditional health insurance coverage for

increases

for

collaboration

residents,

thousands

of

capitalizing

on

the

In addition to the practical impact of

Commonwealth has been able to pay for the

containing the rising cost of health insurance,

reforms even during this global recession that

the voters of Massachusetts continue to voice

has placed enormous pressures on the state’s

overwhelming support for the Massachusetts

finances,” Widmer adds.

Health Reform law. According to a poll

So, while politicians and pundits, as well as

conducted by the Harvard School of Public

the U.S. Supreme Court, debate the fate of

Health and the Boston Globe last year, support

“Obamacare,” as the federal health reform

for the 2006-enacted legislation rose by ten

legislation

Massachusetts

percent over a 2009 poll rising to 63%. Of the

landmark health reform law, sometimes called

respondents in the most recent 2011 poll, 63%

“Romneycare,”

lives,

favored it, 21% opposed it, 6% said they

providing health insurance coverage, and

weren’t sure, and 9% had not heard or read

staying within budget.

about the law.

is

called,

the

continues

saving

On April 12th, the sixth anniversary of the

Whenever two-thirds of voters increasingly

passage of Massachusetts Health Reform, the

support a policy over several years, that’s a

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22 | P a g e


pretty good result. No one is claiming that the

and businesses — all of us, in fact — need to

law is perfect, but we seem to be on the right

see a future in which healthcare costs are not

track. Our next step is to try to promote

choking our take-home pay, our savings, our

bringing health care costs into line with

investments in education, and our quality of

general state productivity while improving

life.

quality of care and without harming access to

Here’s a preview on how were going to do

care. That’s what my colleagues and I are

it, given the work that State Representative

currently working to do.

Steve Walsh has been leading as co-chair of

“It has been one of the biggest policy achievements in this state over the last 25 years,” MTF President Michael Widmer has

the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. 1.

Electronic medical records

said of the Massachusetts Health Reform Law.

Imagine using what looks and feels like a

We've accomplished quite a bit in the past six

credit card (or a thumb drive) whenever you

years and look forward to improving the lives

check into hospital or a doctor’s office, and the

of even more Massachusetts residents and

computer kiosk speaks back to you and asks:

saving state tax dollars as key aspects of

“Hi Barbara, what ails you?” With mandated

federal reform take hold. 

electronic medical records for all of us, this can

Richard T. Moore is a State Senator from Uxbridge, MA.

be the future. They have EMRs for all in France, with the carde vitale. Why shouldn’t we? 2.

Pricing Transparency and Consumer

Education Reducing Healthcare Costs By State Rep. Tom Conroy

Imagine checking into the office of a primary care physician (PCP) and finding posted on the wall, like in Japan, the costs of some basic treatments, such as an annual physical, or an x-ray of a sprained ankle. Some

healthcare

services

are

essentially

undifferentiated, like commodities. FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS, at least, healthcare premiums, copayments, and deductibles have been suffocating Massachusetts workers and businesses. But in the next month or two, the Massachusetts legislature, in collaboration with Governor Patrick and his team, will enact a new law that over the next decade will curb rising healthcare costs significantly, while improving healthcare service quality. Families

Pricing

transparency amongst these services gives consumers/patients choices, and leads to useful competition and lower prices. Now add to this the ability of your PCP to access a computerized database of treatments, pricing, and quality of service data at hospitals across the state. Then she could help you choose the best value: lowest cost, highest quality, most accessible.

That

kind

of

competitive

marketplace would also drive down costs.

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23 | P a g e


3.

Administrative simplicity

The cost of defensive medicine, according

Imagine, after giving birth to your first child, receiving from your PCP a single bill that lists all the costs of services you received, at the hospital, at the lab, and at the PCP’s office, like such costs are listed on your credit card bill. Wouldn’t that be easier than the current “system”? Instead, what we get now is four explanations

of

benefits

forms,

three

subsequent bills from the health insurance company, two deductible calculations, and a pharmacy invoice. And a partridge in a pear tree. One major hospital in Boston uses over 800 forms. No wonder there are so many claims and billing administrative staff shuffling paper at hospitals and physician offices around the state. 4.

Workforce development

quality is the “patient-centered medical home” model, a team-based approach led by the PCP in which nurse practitioners, social workers, or personal care assistants monitor and proactively coordinate comprehensive healthcare for individuals and families. For patients with chronic illnesses, the medical home model involves ensuring that care is integrated amongst all specialists. For the elderly who are on daily drug regimes, social workers may visit the home and call daily to ensure dosages are correct and taken, to prevent catastrophic costly

re-hospitalization.

To

implement the model, we’ll need to train more of each type of team member. 5.

be $1.4 – $7.0 billion of the nearly $70 billion that was spent on healthcare in our state during 2011. To reduce defensive medicine and the fear of lawsuits, we’ll put limits on expert witnesses and on the statute of limitations of a legal action, while allowing for physicians to speak clearly and truthfully with patients and kin. That doesn’t happen now, but it can in the future, to the benefit of all. 6.

Payment reform

Right now, most physicians and hospitals get paid on a fee-for-service basis, which creates incentives for doctors and hospitals to consumers/patients. While maintaining fee-

lowering healthcare costs and improving

and

healthcare costs. In Massachusetts, that would

over-diagnose, over-treat, and over-serve

One of the most innovative approaches to

illness

to estimates, ranges from 2% to 10% of total

Medical malpractice

for-service in rare instances, we can save costs by using bundled, global, and experiencebased payments mechanisms. This shift would also align PCP practices with comprehensive and coordinated treatment models such as the medical homes, and reduce not just the number of proscribed services, but also the intensity of treatment regimes. All of these changes will help control costs. Our stated goal in the current bill is to keep health care pricing and costs from rising at a rate faster than the rest of the Massachusetts economy. If we can achieve that goal, families and businesses will win. 

Tom Conroy, vice chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, is state representative for the 13th Middlesex District (Lincoln, Sudbury, and Wayland) and can be reached at Thomas.Conroy@MAHouse.gov or 617-722-2430.

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24 | P a g e


the welfare of our country. We remember and embrace Franklin Roosevelt's vision of a nation where no child misses inoculations due to poverty, where seniors are given a modest safety net to obliterate old age destitution, where women's health is a priority, where cancer screenings which can save life are given freely, where child care, school nutrition, family planning and education are accessible and

The Neighbor Column: Democrats and Health Care

affordable to all. Now our opposition tells us that we should each go it alone. That we cannot possibly pay for these

By Bill Buckley Walpole’s Democratic Party chair talks about that party’s relationship with health care.

programs and our thermonuclear bombs, our multiple wars, out tax cuts, our oil subsidies, our international detention centers, and they are correct. So we must choose. We know it

We are always talking about health care.

will not be easy. We know that there will

We read emails about it from the DNC, we

always be the example of the benefit cheat,

listen to pundits talk about it, and we see

held up like the bloody shirt of old, to justify

deductions for it from our pay checks. We also

doing nothing. What distinguishes the New

hear our loyal and vocal opposition talk about

Deal hand-up, from the Welfare State hand-

health

socialized

out is personal responsibility. The notion that if

medicine, quotas, death panels, and the slow

we all pay in, in our time of need the fund will

decent into hell our country is embarking

pay out. That would be the fruition of the

upon.

promise of freedom from want and freedom

care.

We

hear

about

Let's go back to basics. Why are we

from fear.

Democrats? We are Democrats because we

We have had set backs and program

believe, in the core of our beings, in the

failures, false starts and false positives, but it is

goodness of people. We believe that every

worth the effort. It is worth struggling, it is

person has potential, has value, and has worth.

worth the fight. The alternative is doing

We choose to face the challenges of this world

nothing, being content with the small level of

together,

and

security and comfort we may or may not have.

strengthening one another. We are not islands

The alternative is to turn away from the sunlit

unto ourselves. This humanistic belief is the

uplands, to hide the light our American city on

fountainhead of our party's platform.

a hill. I think I know what choice you'll make. 

collectively,

encouraging

For one hundred years, American leaders have been bogged down arguing the policy points of healthcare. When we talk about healthcare, we Democrats are talking about

William Buckley is the Chair of the Walpole Democratic Town Committee, and a former Walpole school committee member.

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25 | P a g e


watching the newly released DVD of Sherlock Holmes 2 featuring Robert Downey Jr. You think

Willard

“Mitt”

“Mittens”

“Mitti-poo”

http://massresistance.org/docs/marriage/romney/health_ins/

Romney is a flip-flopper who has no true convictions. I’m here to tell you something: there’s more to Mitt than meets the eye. Sure, Mitt changes positions every election cycle – some say to better help him win. That’s not true, my dear friends. You see, I was once able to witness him making a decision in action – when he was deciding on whether to initiate Operation Romneycare. I’m going to tell you the story of how Mitt Romney makes up his mind. You see, back a couple of years ago, I was

How I Helped Invent Romney-care:

the official feeder for Lt. Governor Healey’s

“A True Story”

loved the cat, and would stroke it and laugh

fluffy white office cat, Snuffles. Mitt actually hysterically like a better-haired version of Dr.

By “John Finley”

Evil. In fact, that’s where I got the chance to speak with him regarding his new proposal:

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our Presidential matchup. President

Barack

Obama

and

former

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are set to face off in the greatest presidential contest in maybe the history of the world wide world. Words will be twisted and storylines spun. Babies will be kissed. And Wolf Blitzer will take over as interim commander of the White House Situation room, as the two candidates duke it out in front of the American public. Now, dear readers of the International

House of Pancakes Journal of Baked Goods, [Editor’s Note: John Finley often forgets the name of the Attleboro Democracy] I know what you’re thinking, and not just because I’ve enhanced my powers of observation by

health care for Massachusetts. “Perrrrrrrrrfect,” Mitt said, stroking the cat. “Soon, I will make a decision on health care for universal

health

care

for

Massachusetts.

Soon…” “Excuse me, governor,” I said, “What’s perfect?” He handed me Snuffles and looked at me intently. “Cat guy,” he said. “Can you keep a secret?” “Of course!” I exclaimed. “Well….” He started rubbing his fingers nervously on his desk. “Here’s the thing. I don’t know whether health care for all these people is the right thing to do.” “Do

you

mean

the

most

political

advantageous thing to do?” I said. Snuffles was purring.

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26 | P a g e


“No, no!” Romney said in horror. He

how I made all my big decisions in life. From

opened a door in his desk, and began to reach

trying to run for Senate against Ted Kennedy,

into it, then stopped. He pushed the door in

to running the Olympics, to deciding – most

and looked back up at me. “Cat guy, people

importantly – who should be my hair dresser.”

always think I ‘flip flop.’ They don’t think I’m

He looked intently at the magic eight ball. I

sincere. They think I make my decisions based

spoke to him softly, “I think you need to ask it

on sheer political calculation, as if I’m some

about health care.” Governor Romney nodded.

robot with no heart. Now, my cousin Glove, he

Then he shook it. This was the result:

might be that way, but I’m not.”

“You betchya!”

He looked at me fiercely. “I’m going to

You’re welcome Massachusetts. Because of

show you what I use to make my decisions.

me, and Romney’s magic eight ball, we all

Sometimes it results in changes in positions, but only because that’s how my method works.” He pulled the door to his desk back out

health insurance. Mittens? He’s not a flipflopper! His magic eight ball is. 

again and reached inside it. As he pulled his hand back within his view, I saw it. “Governor… is that…” I squinted my eyes. “A magic eight ball?”

John Finley is a fictitious character created by the Editor. However, rumors suggest Romney does use a magic eight ball to make decisions.

Romney held the little black ball toy in his hand and began to shake it. “Yes it is. This is

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Movies, books, television, and so much more, affect our society, and even our politics. The Attleboro Democracy presents its reviews of the latest culturally significant and notable happenings in the country.

Out of every show on television, there is http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/05/09/hbohas-only-itself-to-blame-for-record-game-of-thrones-piracy/

one show that helps illustrate the disarray of the American political system. It’s not on CNN or FOX; it’s not even a show about America. To help understand the difficulties we face as a nation, one only has to look at HBO’s smash hit, Game of Thrones. At first glance, a medieval fantasy mini-

Game of Thrones and American Politics

series adapted from American author George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series seems to have nothing in common with

by Andrew Meehan

the real life drama of American politics. But it HBO’s hit fantasy series and its byzantine plot lines and politics help point out America’s own political problems.

does.

Game of Thrones centers on the fictional continent of Westeros, set in a medieval world, the gritty daily life of which Game of Thrones does not shy away from. On the continent are

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numerous royal houses – the stoic and loyal

debt crisis, terrorism, global warming, the

Starks of Winterfell in the frostbitten north, the

economy – and they are ignored because

patriarch of whom is played by Sean Bean; the

elected officials that we vote for are too

often tricky and conniving Lannisters, featuring

focused on winning elections and gaining

Peter Dinklage and his Emmy Award and

power.

Golden Globe winning performance as the

In order to solve some of these problems,

dwarfism-afflicted Tyrion; the Baratheons, who

that fact has to be recognized. Solutions that

hold the current line of kings; and the

are

Targaryans, the small remainder of the former

increased bipartisanship, or that one faction

ruling house that seek to reclaim the throne.

better behave itself. Both would be great, but

However, while these royal houses fight amongst

gridlock

include

the giant problem we face is that our elected

potentially

(whether it’s less votes next election or less

catastrophic threat looms from the far north: a

money from a gracious donor) at the

supernatural group of abominable snowman-

necessary times, in order to solve big issues.

like “Others” with the power to raise the dead

Now, our political system was designed with

march on Westeros, and their only obstacle is

the self-interested aspect of politicians in mind,

a 800 foot wall made of ice and the forgotten,

but at this moment, it is unable to rein in those

maligned soldiers of the Night’s Watch, who

impulses. Individuals who are our elected

fight this threat while completely ignored by

officials

the rest of Westeros.

neglecting self-interest.

despicable,

reasons

end

leaders must accept a level of sacrifice

and

for

to

both

honorable

themselves,

proposed

a

must

rise

to

the

challenge

of

Otherwise, like the poor misguided folk born of George R.R. Martin’s imagination, we too may be on the brink of catastrophe.

Game of Thrones has just finished its second season on HBO. An excellent series in its own right, but be warned – the series takes its medieval roots seriously, perhaps too much so. Game of Thrones is a mature series, featuring often very violent scenes and images, and an over-usage of sex scenes. This is not a series for kids. Nonetheless, it is one of the Kit Harrington portrays main character Jon Snow, soldier of the Night’s Watch.

best shows on television – and can allude much in the process. 

Why exactly is America like this fake and imagined land? Because right now, we are like those squabbling royal houses. We have severe national issues we have to solve – the

Andrew Meehan is the Editor of the Attleboro Democracy.

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Democracy Bulletin:

To LET YOU KNOW A FEW THINGS THAT ARE GOING ON IN THE COMMUNITY, WE BRING FOR YOU, THE DEMOCRACY BULLETIN.

  WANT SOMETHING ON THE BULLENTIN? SEND US AN EMAIL!

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Editor’s Desk To submit a letter to the Editor, please send an email to the Attleboro Democracy at attleborodemocracy@gmail.com

Want more of the Democracy?

Closing Message Thank you for taking the time to read the latest edition of the Attleboro Democracy Magazine. Our pledge to our readers is that although this magazine was edited and put together by Attleboro Democrats, we aspire that anyone of any political affiliation can read and enjoy the magazine. The Attleboro Democracy is a magazine for everybody, not just one faction or party. This issue has focused on health. Improving health care, solving various health issues – we’ve strived to discuss a variety of important things in the health field that are important. Good health, after all, is what we all want and need, and to the extent that public policy should promote or legislate for better health and health care, we believe we have provided a plethora of good commentary that may help in developing that public policy so that it may improve the health field. We hope you enjoyed the work of our contributors as much as they enjoyed writing them. Our stated goal is: Striving for a Better Public Debate. As long as we keep writing, working, and thinking over the great issues of the day, that’s what we’re going to keep trying to do.

Archived issues are on the Attleboro Democrats’ website!

-Andrew Meehan, Editor Attleboro Democracy Magazine, Spring 2012 Click To Return to Table of Contents

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The Attleboro Democracy is closing in on its one year anniversary of being formed. To all readers, contributors, and all those who have helped over the last year – thank you. Sincerely, Andrew Meehan – Editor of the Attleboro Democracy

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Health Issue - 2012