Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

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Larchmonters Get Educated, Speak Out on Health Care Reform

As Congress debated details of national health care reform, a group of local residents met in a Larchmont home to discuss their own objections to the current system and to learn more from a health care policy expert. Like others gathering in grassroots groups across the country, some at the meeting were also looking to spur action at the federal level.

Kate Kelly opened the gathering in her home on June 2 and voiced support for reform: “It’s the right thing to do.”  Of particular concern to her is the plight of people excluded from insurance plans because of chronic illness, like her young adult daughter who needs special care for lupus.  After a tremendous struggle, her daughter found insurance  where she lives in California, but she would face a new battle for coverage should she move to another state.  Another motivation to press for expanded coverage, said Ms. Kelly, was the terrifying prospect of a pandemic outspread of disease while 47 million Americans lack health care insurance.

Nancy White, co-host of the meeting, asked why she must spend so much for her health insurance.  “Health care should be a right, not a privilege,” she asserted.

Dr. Betsy Rosenthal (left) explained her position on health care reform to Westchester County Legislator Judy Myers.

Dr. Betsy Rosenthal (left) explained her position on health care reform to Westchester County Legislator Judy Myers.

Dr. Betsy Rosenthal, a Larchmont resident and dermatologist in practice for 35 years,  asked, “Why isn’t health care a human right here, as it is in so many other countries of the world?” 

Westchester County Legislator Judy Myers, a Larchmont resident, pondered, “Why isn’t universal health insurance required?  We require all drivers to have car insurance.”

Tim Foley, health care policy coordinator for NYC for Change, helped the group understand current conditions and outlined principal obstacles to “changing the game.”  He also outlined what Congressional health legislation may entail.   

Why the current urgency for change? Mr. Foley noted:

  • Over the past decade, health insurance premiums have increased 400% while medical debt accounts for 50% of all personal bankruptcies;
  • Health care consumes 16% of our GNP, and health care costs are increasing at an untenable three times the rate of inflation;  and
  • 18,000 deaths per year occur among the uninsured.  

“We have the most expensive health care system in the world, but not the best quality one,” he lamented. But, conditions seem more favorable to change than ever, given the large number of Congressional leaders admitting a need for improvement and a president, public, and labor unions mobilized for reform.  

What Plans Are Likely?

Mr. Foley speculated that Congress will come up with some kind of “consensus” plan.  Consumers could stay with current health insurance plans they like.  Or they could find better coverage through a national health exchange portal to various private health insurance plans that would provide the same medical, dental and eye care benefits that Congressional representatives enjoy, without penalties or exclusions for chronic illness.  A third option lies in a public health insurance system, administered by the federal government, that would offer reduced cost through negotiated prices for medicines,  streamlined administration, restrictions on excessive medical procedures, and more preventive treatment.

Tim Foley, health care policy coordinator  for NYC for Change, guided a discussion on health care reform hosted by Kate Kelly (left) and Nancy White (right).

Tim Foley, health care policy coordinator for NYC for Change, guided a discussion on health care reform hosted by Kate Kelly (left) and Nancy White (right).

What Are the Obstacles to Change?

Some listening to Mr. Foley voiced passionate support for federally managed national health insurance.  Others asked what it would take to effectively overhaul the existing system and how expanded health care could be funded

Mr. Foley and some other participants noted that with net profits and CEO bonuses in private health insurance and pharmaceutical companies soaring, there’s a lot at stake. Expansion of benefits and the introduction of a public health insurance system could eat away at both corporate profits and jobs, particularly those devoted to administering claims and marketing insurance policies and pharmaceuticals.  Negative ads and campaigns are already in gear to discredit reform.

The high stakes of change are also of concern to many consumers who enjoy good health and are comfortable with their existing health insurance.  For them, ‘changing the game’ without knowing outcomes in advance, can be scary. 

This phenomenon mystifies Dr. Rosenthal. “Don’t people understand that our ‘free market’ system offers limited choices?  How free are consumers of HMO services to see the doctor of their choice?” she asked. And what happens when a medical crisis exhausts insurance benefits? “Then you’re on the road to bankruptcy,” she said.

Dr.  Rosenthal said she has watched the quality and quantity of her medical practice in Mamaroneck decline as a result of arbitrary and obstructive private insurance rules. “Profit has no place in health care,” she said. “Take away the profit, and you’ll see the costs drop dramatically.”

Larchmont Gathering Follows Town Hall Meeting

Ms. Kelly invited people to her home after speaking at a Town Hall meeting in Greenburgh on May 14 organized by the Westchester Health Care Reform Task Force.  At that event, voters and legislators from across the County discussed problems with access, cost and quality of care.  

County Legislator Judy Myers declared that “Washington must move quickly to pass comprehensive health reform this year in order to control rising health care costs, guarantee choice of doctor, and assure high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.” 

NYS Assemblyman George Latimer  explained,  “Let me remind you that entitlements like K-12 education and education for girls, that we take for granted,  were not a ‘given.’ They came after battles were won.  We have to find ways to make Congress do the necessary restructuring for fulfilling its commitment to serve the people of this country.”

These views were echoed by other officials who stressed the importance of voters pressing Congress to act on creating a more equitable, inclusive and efficient health care system.

Kate Kelly and others involved in organizing the Larchmont meeting took up the challenge to “do something” to support change by first educating themselves and by then helping their neighbors to do so as well.

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3 comments to Larchmonters Get Educated, Speak Out on Health Care Reform

  • BenDoubleCrossed



    Decades ago the government passed ‘pay or play’ tax incentives that encouraged employers to provide employees with health insurance.

    And America was hooked on health care the way junkies get hooked on smack. The dealer gave free samples until the client was hooked.

    When I was young America was the world’s wealthiest nation. And employer provided health insurance paid 100% of medical costs. Because it was free it was abused. Mom took children to the emergency room for a rash and to the doctor for a small cut. Demand was artificially high.

    Cost shifting provided for the uninsured. Patients with good insurance policies and wealthy patients with no insurance policies received inflated invoices to cover the costs of those who could not pay. Health care providers and hospitals robbed from the rich to provide health care for the poor.

    It is instructive that during the time when America enjoyed great wealth the Federal Government expressed no concern for the plight of the uninsured!

    But over time manufacturing jobs moved overseas and were replaced with lower paying service economy jobs. Consequently, employers offered health insurance with less coverage and higher deductibles and co-pays.

    Were factory jobs lost because America could not compete with manufacturers in countries where government paid for health care? Regardless, American leaders would not raise tariffs to level the playing field and signed GATT and NAFTA into law!

    And America’s leaders permitted millions of ‘illegal’ aliens to cross the border to do work American’s would not do. Our schools educated their children, our State governments gave them drivers licenses, our banks granted them mortgages and our hospitals provided them health care.


    Now that America is the worlds biggest debtor nation the Federal Government has decided the plight of the uninsured is unconscionable and universal coverage is a moral imperative.

    But this is not about the 46 million uninsured. It is about assuring health insurance companies’ market share and health care professionals expected incomes and lifestyles.

    The health system in America has been based on a larger and more affluent generation of young policy holders offsetting the health cost of middle aged and seniors. This formula is being upset by the WWII baby boomers generation approaching retirement and the global recession.

    President Obama wants every American citizen to be required to buy a health insurance policy. He compares it to the requirement that motorists purchase auto insurance. But while driving is a privilege, life and the pursuit of happiness is a right!

    Where in the Constitution or Bill of Rights is the Federal Governments authority to require the purchase of a health insurance policy as a condition of having been born?
    Where is freedom when government has the power to tell you how to spend after tax dollars? What distinguishes disposable income from taxes?

    As for the proposal that the IRS be charged with fining citizens who do not purchase a health insurance policy, since the federal government just prints more paper money to pay debt why is taxation or the IRS even necessary. Just shutdown the IRS and transfer its budget to indigent care!


    Is providing health care an enumerated power or responsibility of the Federal Government?

    The Federal Government lacks any authority to preach fiscal responsibility. It has exhibited none in my lifetime and has reduced the wealthiest nation on the planet to world’s biggest debtor nation.

    But Ma and Pa citizen have had to balance a checkbook their entire lives. The solution is to return control of health care spending to them.

    Pass a law making it illegal for an employer to offer health insurance as an employee benefit. End wage stagnation and give employees raises instead.

    Doing away with group health insurance and forcing insurance providers to compete for individual business will permit cost conscious Ma and Pa to shop for the best deal, like they do auto insurance. Then the free market will bring costs under control!

    • With so many businesses now piggybacking on the United States for aid, it is reasonable for the citizens to want medical care for all citizens. The majority of Western countries already have socialized medical systems. Even Canada to the north and Mexico to our south have socialized medicine for their citizens. Place a tax on oil and gas to pay for socialized medicine like they do in Europe with price controls for medical care. This government has a history tied to the constitution, but when the constitution was written slavery was legal, and women did not have equal rights. That is why there were amendments. Do not base medical treatment to an outdated constitution. if the government decided to place a tax on oil of $25 a barrel when it is above $ 40 a barrel, there would be enough money for socialized medicine in the United States. So for example with oil at 66 right now the price would be at 91 but all would be entitled to health care with no real cost to the US government. government.

  • GDP observer

    When socialism meets political correctness, as is happening to this country before my eyes, it makes up for a very expensive future indeed. At least socialism ended up in rationing, but here, everybody will have a right to healthcare, and politically correct healthcare means : expensive medecine because of tort lawsuits (useless tests, over-medicalization), heart transplants for 95 year old dying of old age, cure rather than prevention for diabetes caused by unhealthy lifestyle and , of course, coverage for chronic mental and physical in ER for our “undocumented” brethren.
    The anti-spam word for this post is again “toast”. Maybe, by repeating it, we will see the risks of socialism mixed with political correctness.