Volume 79, Number 19 | Oct 14 - 20, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Healthcare, by the numbers

To The Editor:
You’d never know it listening to the endless blather of politicians and the media, but 100 million Americans — about 40 percent of all of us with health insurance — already have some form of “government-run” health plan.

Why isn’t this mentioned all the time? The Democratic congressional leadership and President Obama should be citing this fact over and over again.

It only took a few Google searches to compile the data, and it is apparent in testimony before Congress. Folks, 100 million Americans with insurance are already on some sort of government plan:

43 million are on Medicare.

42 million are on Medicaid.

4 million or more are on Tricare, which covers active and reserve military, plus dependents and retirees.
2 million are prisoners.

8 million are covered by Veterans Affairs.

7.4 million are on S.C.H.I.P. (State Children’s Health Insurance Program).

1.8 million are served by the Indian Health Services clinic system.

In addition, another 18 million are government employees whose private health insurance is administered and paid for, at least in part, with taxpayer dollars:

2.7 million are federal employees.

656,000 are U.S. Postal Service employees.

3.8 million are full-time state government employees.

10.9 million workers are full-time local government employees — 6 million of them public school teachers.

Does anyone know a public school teacher without a good insurance plan?

We all know the government needs to get its hands off of your Medicare, but to fully assess the government role in health insurance we must include all the private health insurance plans that are government administered. These plans are contracted to private insurance companies, but because of the combined bargaining powers of government and civil-service unions, they offer better benefits at a lower cost — exactly what we all want, right?

The numbers add up to more than 126 million people. Twenty percent are either duplicates or people who don’t enroll in their government-sponsoredplans for some reason, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

That leaves 100 million on the government healthcare teat, roughly 40 percent of the 260 million Americans who have health insurance at all.

Am I missing something here? One hundred million of us already have “government” health insurance! Why isn’t this number constantly being thrown in the face of the idiots who tell us the government should “stay out” of healthcare?

If Democrats pointed out that the “public option” is no more or less than what is already offered to 100 million people all over the country, whom the Republicans claim are “happy” with the “status quo,” wouldn’t that bring more people on board to finally get the health insurance reform bill Americans need?’

Barrett Zinn Gross

Quinn is the rail thing

To The Editor:
In your recent editorial (“Some advice for Quinn,” Sept. 30), among other advice, you urged City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to go “out stumping with Friends of the High Line to preserve the elevated park’s northernmost portion.”

While we appreciate the mention of what’s currently our most important piece of advocacy work, we hardly think Speaker Quinn has been lackluster in this effort. The truth is, if it wasn’t for Speaker Quinn’s leadership, first as a councilmember and then as speaker, there would be no High Line today.

Speaker Quinn was the first elected official to champion the High Line, the first to advocate for city funding for its redevelopment, and has in fact led the effort to preserve the High Line’s northernmost section at the West Side Rail Yards.

A City Planning Commission hearing last month was a testament to how far these efforts have come: The planning documents for the Western Rail Yards rezoning now include substantial language about the historical and physical value of the High Line to the site. While our goal of full preservation of the High Line has yet to be reached, it is safe to say that nobody at the beginning of this process thought that our efforts would be this successful. We have Speaker Quinn, and her visionary support for this West Side project, to thank for that.

Robert Hammond
Hammond is co-founder, Friends of the High Line

Rents out of ‘control’

To The Editor:
Re “Rent ranters turn on Bloomberg, who didn’t freeze hikes” (news article, Oct. 7)

While The Villager keeps us well informed about the comings, goings and shenanigans of politicians in our community, like most publications it doesn’t understand the difference between rent stabilization and rent control. If it did understand the difference it would have also reported the even greater increases that rent-controlled tenants have had to recently endure under the “Bloombucks” administration — all increases, believe it or not, retroactive from 2006.

The recent rent hikes for rent-controlled tenants are 6 percent for 2006-’07 and 7.5 percent for each successive year to 2009.

The “order of eligibility” by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal Office of Rent Administration is so confusing that when I called their office to have someone explain it to me, they couldn’t.

Keep up the good work, but remember, the only tenants recently affected by the Rent Guidelines Board were not just rent-stabilized tenants, but rent-controlled tenants as well.

Earl Carter

12-step programs saved

To The Editor:
My deepest gratitude to those concerned individuals — you know who you are! — elected officials and citizens who dared speak truth to power, who got St. Vincent’s Hospital to rescind its arbitrary and cruel expulsion of 50 or so community groups from their meetings at the O’Toole building and the main hospital building. 

I pray this success will encourage all to take heart as we work to block the destruction of the light, air and quiet of the West Village neighborhood, which the destruction of O’Toole and the construction of a 28-story hospital would do. 

Although the odds may be against us, to paraphrase Alfred Lord Tennyson: “Our strength is as the strength of ten, because our hearts are pure.”

Elizabeth Ryan

Artistic differences

To The Editor: 
Re “Artistic scapegoating” (letter, by Robert Lederman, Sept. 30):

I was fascinated by Robert Lederman’s rewriting of history in his letter to the editor. 

Let me set things straight. It is a fact that I worked for Alan Gerson’s campaign when he first ran for office. I did join his Downtown Arts Committee, which was responsible for a lot of good work for arts groups in the Downtown area. For that work I am quite proud and I feel that Alan did a fine job.

However, when it came to street artists and his vending plan, Alan and I parted paths. This is vividly clear from any fair reading of my previous letters in The Villager. 

This all points out the main difference between Robert Lederman and myself. Robert is an advocate for illegal vendors and bootleggers, while I advocate for artists alone. Unfortunately, Robert has duped some street artists into believing that he is a kind of vending messiah, and therefore his group has taken on the air of a cult. However, the facts are that time and again, Robert has welcomed bootleggers and illegal vendors into his group and has advocated for their cause. This association harms public fine artists badly and it is time they woke up and smelled the contraband.

It is a fact that Robert and other radical members of A.R.T.I.S.T. attack any other artist that dares to have a different opinion. His letter to The Villager is a perfect example. It hard to count the lies he has told about me in this one letter, but this strategy of obfuscation and character assassination has gone on for years and scares the heck out of any artist who considers speaking out with a different voice. It is really quite a bit like the wild-eyed attacks President Obama endures from the radical right. The bad news is that by the time these outrageous lies are discovered, the person who is subject to them is already harmed. That is the Lederman method and it continues unabated through today.

My advice to public fine artists remains to approach Margaret Chin on their own and not as members of A.R.T.I.S.T. Anyone who is a member of that group is automatically marginalized due to the overwhelming presence of bootleggers and illegal vendors in their midst. If artists will take the time to stand up for themselves, they have a much better chance of having their voices heard and their issues understood by Ms. Chin. I sincerely hope they do so.

Lawrence White

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.


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