Letters to the Editor for March 27

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
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Preserve history by leaving ‘Haunted Hospital’ standing

I read, with some interest, your March 20 article and March 22 editorial about the “Haunted Hospital,” and again am saddened by our unwillingness to preserve history.

Why do we let such a beautiful building fall into disrepair? Why do we abandon these beautiful buildings (part of our heritage) and then, when time and neglect enter, tear them down and leave vacant, uncared-for lots? To use this building as the reason for a tragic accident is ludicrous!

People travel to Europe to see historical sites. Many buildings there are hundreds of years old.

I am sure if we took proper care of buildings such as the “Haunted Hospital,” there would be no need to tear it down.

While I have never seen this facility in person, the picture in the March 21 Gazette shows a stately and proud building. Why can’t it be turned into a functioning building again — a homeless shelter or senior housing? [The county] originally purchased [it] 30 years ago to rehab it, but that plan never came to fruition. Why do we wait 30 years to do something about an empty piece of history?

Cities and towns must stay on top of such purchases and preserve our heritage. We do not have to travel to Washington, D.C., or other historical sites to see our history alive and well. We have history in our own back yards that can be displayed proudly for generations to come.

Vincent F. Carelli


Where are we two years after health care act?

Two years ago this week, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Some dubbed this an historic act. Others claimed it was a socialist takeover of our health care system. But many expressed to me their uncertainty as to what the law actually did and how it would impact them or their family. Two years later, let’s take a look at some of the facts.

Some 5,900 young adults (26 and under) in the Capital Region have health insurance today who did not have it two years ago. Nationwide, over 2.5 million young people have obtained insurance coverage.

Over 10,000 seniors in our area have received prescription drug discounts, saving over $580 each. Across the country, more than 3.6 million seniors have already saved more than $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs since enactment.

Seniors have also been able to capitalize on access to preventative care and services without any co-pay, coinsurance or deductible. That has meant nearly 80,000 seniors have received free services in our area alone — improving wellness, flu shots, detecting high cholesterol levels, heart screenings, mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, colorectal and prostrate screenings, and much more — at no out-of-pocket cost to them.

In addition, the law ended the most egregious insurance company abuses, including denying children health insurance because of pre-existing conditions like asthma, obesity, diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Some estimates suggest as many as 33,000 children with pre-existing conditions are now protected against insurer denials in the Capital Region alone.

There are also 500,000 residents with private health insurance coverage who are protected against being dropped if they become ill and 250,000 people in health care plans that previously had lifetime limits but no longer do.

All these changes deserve scrutiny and review, and certainly nobody would claim that the Affordable Care Act is perfect. We demanded perfection from the bill, but settled for progress.

However, before we call the law a “death knell for freedom” or make pledges to “get rid of job-killing Obamacare,” let’s be honest with ourselves and one another. Let’s examine the facts, review the intentions and then make any necessary adjustments. A thoughtful democracy requires nothing less.

Paul D. Tonko

Washington, D.C.

The writer is a member of Congress.

Special ed bake sale story warmed the heart

I just wanted to say kudos first to the Gazette for the March 19 article [“Special ed students lend a helping hand”] on Nicole Gamache’s special education class at Yates Magnet School.

And second, and most importantly, to Ms. Gamache and the staff at the school for taking the time and energy with the students for the bake sale. What a positive message and learning tool they experienced not only for themselves, but for those who purchased the baked goods.

Thank you for the heartwarming story.

Lynn E. Barnes


Banning smoking in open spaces is going too far

Re March 7 article, “Malls to ban outside smoking”: Let me start by stating that I am a non-smoker. But, most laws put forth the past several years against smokers are way beyond reason.

Not allowing smoking in closed places such as movie theaters, small restaurants churches and buses, etc., because of the alleged problems caused by secondhand smoke, is one thing. But to not allow smoking in open spaces — such as parks, sports fields and parking lots, around any buildings, streets and, in some cases, even entire cities — is way beyond any sense of reason.

I do not care for the odor of secondhand smoke, but I think smoking should be allowed any place that allows people to wear perfume. Nothing is more repulsive to me than to be in a closed area and have to smell or even gag sometimes because of the odor of someone’s putrid-smelling perfume. Men’s cologne is usually as bad.

The recent ruling by Pyramid Corp. to not allow smoking anyplace on their property is the last straw. I will continue to walk at Crossgates in the winter when I can’t walk outside, but I will never patronize any of their stores again. I don’t particularly care to shop at Walmart, Kmart, Target, etc., but I’m sure I’ll find whatever I need there or at other malls and plazas. I urge everyone to do the same until they eliminate this absolutely stupid rule.

Neil Nusbaum


Young families really have it tough nowadays

I would like to praise the young people, especially the mothers and the fathers, for coping with the economy besides raising their families in these hard times.

When I was young, I didn’t have to put up with the likes of the things our young people do.

I didn’t have to think of having cable with the Internet, costly day care, high taxes, high gas [prices], cellphones, iPhone, iPad, computers, computer games, interest in the bank, high food prices, Social Security and retirement issues, health-care coverage, etc.

Our young people have their work cut out for them, because they both have to work to achieve their goals.

Everyone is trying to take your money, no one is trying to help you. This is one old guy who can feel your pain.

Walter “Neal” Brazell


Gambling creates plenty of misery, but not wealth

Will someone please explain to me how “gaming” creates wealth? I understand how if a company takes $10 in materials and makes a gadget that sells for $100, they increase the wealth of the country by $90. Or if someone provides a service that nets them $10 an hour, that increases their disposable income and stimulates economic activity.

But gambling simply siphons off the disposable income of one class of people to line the pockets of wealthy casino owners. And of course the state skims the take of all the casinos, so the politicians increase their influence.

Economic development should mean New York residents getting help starting up businesses. That will generate more wealth and economic activity to tax — that’s supposed to be the point.

Instead, Gov. Cuomo, [Assembly Speaker] Silver and [Senate Majority Leader] Skelos pander to rich casino developers so they can get richer off the misery of compulsive gamblers.

Mark Stockman


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March 27, 2012
7:09 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Paul D. Tonko

And my health insurance went up 500%. Nuerological surgeons will have to get permission from a panel of non doctors for permission to operate on anyone over 70 years old, which in affect are death panels. Lack of needed prescription drugs in emergency rooms and hospitals are at an all time high as is the closing of hospitals. I would say it is time you did the taxpayers a favor and retire.

March 27, 2012
7:42 a.m.
mossey says...

Agreed, warincic. The goal of health care reform should have been to lower the cost of healthcare itself, and of insurance coverage, making health care accessible. Instead, we made healthcare free to some, and painfully expensive to others.

Small business owners are going broke trying to offer insurance as a benefit, with unplanned increases in premiums that delay the opportunity for business growth. Self-employment is becoming a nonviable option. That's no way to lead a nation into economic recovery.

March 27, 2012
8:20 a.m.
lanaturner says...

Death Panels...I finally figured out your true identity - you're Sarah Palin!!!!!

March 27, 2012
11:44 a.m.
EH3 says...

so what's the solution to providing affordable health care to Americans from the right?

March 27, 2012
3 p.m.
tonijean613 says...

After a job loss in Massachusetts, COBRA ($400.00/month for Blue Cross) ended 18 months later -but 2 months shy of the start of the new Massachusetts Commonwealth Care (ObamaCare is based on MA plan)-
when I called Blue Cross to find out what coverage was going to cost me for those 2 months- I was quoted $850.00 per month just for individual coverage.
I went 2 months without insurance- then started on Commonwealth Care at a cost of $150.00/month with better coverage to Blue Cross, lower co-pays and the addition of eye glass benefit. The premium rates depend on your income and you have a choice of many plans and premiums and co-pays. The MA plan saved me ! Once you go back to work for a company, you are no longer allowed to access Commonwealth Care- you are forced to accept the insurance of your new employer- even though it may be less coverage. My personal solution is better Medicare for All- but the MA plan seems pretty good and most are pretty happy with the straigt forward cost and coverage. An immediate way for Congress to keep more people from losing coverage until ObamaCare kicks in would be to simply expand COBRRA- why cant people just permanently stay on COBRA if they can afford to pay for it and are happy with their plan? Congressman Tonko could introduce a COBRA extension bill.

March 27, 2012
4:15 p.m.
paulj says...

Mr. Tonko,

When you front load bills, in his case, benefits, then tax after 2014, sure it looks good until you read the other 2600 pages. The longer it goes the worse it gets.

March 27, 2012
5 p.m.
wmarincic says...

The plan from the right was the healthcare before Obamacare. Nobody in America was denied healthcare, we already had universal healthcare. We had medicaid for those on public assistance that did not have health insurance and we had hospitals that by law could not turn emergency patients away. With Obamacare we just took those people from medicaid and made people with health insurance pay their bill. Again, my health insurance went up 500% because of Obamacare, I now pay over $20,000 per year for insurance.

March 27, 2012
5:27 p.m.
EH3 says...

Do you really think that healthcare in America was working well before Obama?????-tell that to the people with pre-existing conditions who have been unable to get insurance (I believe that it still has a long way to go...)I'm not sure what happened with your health insurance but mine didn't go up more than usual... We already pay medicaid recipients and non-insured emergency patients bills through taxes and higher premiums...

March 27, 2012
7:39 p.m.
wmarincic says...

That was before an additional 56M people. I work for a small company with about 200 people and my plan changed so that I now have to pay 30% of everything up to the first $9400 plus I pay $149 per week for my wife and myself and $35 copays. I am already up to the $9400. this year due to my wife. I never had to pay a dime above my premium before Obamacare. Pre-exsisting conditions were also already covered by medicaid.

March 28, 2012
12:27 p.m.
JLibertarian says...

Someone asked for a better solution than Obamacare or any of the other suggested fixes. None of these so-called fixes address the real issue. They all work off of the same premise that everyone needs health insurance to get health care. That is bunk!

The main causes for the rise in health insurance and health care costs are the implementation of the HMO concept, having a third party pay for your health care, and government intrusions. The HMO problem is that more people go to the doctor more often than before HMO's. The more you use something the more it is going to cost. When you have a third party pay for something you purchase, you don't generally care what the cost is. And whenever government gets involved in any aspect of commerce, it always forces prices to rise.

Here is the real solution. Decouple health insurance coverage from employers. In other words, each person who wants health insurance, buys it on their own from the free market and can buy it from a company in another state if they want. Get government out of health care and health insurance completely. By that I mean no government mandated coverages for health insurance policies and reduce, even eliminate regulations. This will allow people to buy the coverage they want/need at a cost that is agreeable to them. If someone doesn't have health insurance, they will be free to negotiate the cost of health care with their provider. Do you know that in New York State, you can't make an agreement with your doctor for the cost of services he provides you. The state considers such an arrangement to be health insurance and has to be regulated.

These free market solutions are so simple that I guarantee the cost of health care and health insurance will drop dramatically while the level of care and health innovation will go up.

March 28, 2012
7:13 p.m.
wmarincic says...

gaetani you are 100% correct

March 28, 2012
9:26 p.m.
EH3 says...

and what happens to the person who can't afford health insurance or chooses not to buy it because they are young and healthy when they suddenly have catastrophic health problems. Who picks up the bill -or do we just let them die (insert sound of cheering at the tea party rally) _but, I agree that some common-sense deregulation could do a lot to bring costs down...

March 29, 2012
7:10 a.m.
wmarincic says...

EH3 it was the Tea Party that brought attention to the death panels in Obamacare. The young and healthy would probably pay less money for insurance. We pay for people's catastrophic care now.

March 29, 2012
7:21 p.m.
EH3 says...

and that would change if everyone had health insurance! My rates would go down if I didn't have to subsidize the uninsureds' catastrophic medical bills. Death panels are just another ficticious right wing talking point...

March 30, 2012
9:24 a.m.
JLibertarian says...

EH3, That is the fallacy that the Democrat politicians are espousing. Your health insurance costs will not go down. They will go up because you will now be subsidizing everyone who uses their health insurance. The more you use something the more it costs. The other fallacy is that we are paying for the uninsureds' catastrophic care now. How so? Is it because the insurance companies charge more for insurance? That argument doesn't make any sense. Is it because health care providers charge us more? You would think so but the health insurance companies control how much they pay so much that the health care providers can't really do that.

Answer me this. What is so great about having your children on your health insurance coverage until they are 26? As a matter of fact, when my daughter is 26, I will be on Medicare (if it is still around) and I don't think she will be allowed on that policy.

As I stated before, the best way to solve the health insurance and health care issues is to actually do away with health insurance for health maintenance care and only have it for catastrophic care. Then the market would work on keeping the costs down. You would be free to negotiate costs with your doctor and pharmacy.

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