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December, 2014
The Hamptons – A Place of Last Resort

The Hamptons – A Place of Last Resort

Traffic doesn’t move too quickly on a large number of Long Island roads. Anywhere you drive, north, south, east or west you are bound to run into massive gridlock. Close to the top of the worst traffic nightmares is getting in and out of the Hamptons, all year round.

On any given day travelers in the Hamptons will be stuck in a long line of pickup trucks filled with construction workers. Add into that mix the growing number of year round residents and the day trippers anxious to see where the rich and famous are living. And if you happen to be driving out east during the apple and pumpkin picking season, allow lots of extra time to get to your destination.

It would be unfair to point the finger at the East End’s current elected officials because the gridlock is directly connected to fifty plus years of poor planning and the lack of any fresh ideas being introduced into the current debate about how to manage the massive growth that the area has experienced.

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Long Beach Shouldn’t Be Without a Full Service Hospital

Long Beach Shouldn’t Be Without a Full Service Hospital

I  have no idea how many of you have ever set foot in Long Beach, but many Long Island residents and city dwellers have at one time or another walked on the city’s pristine beaches and inviting boardwalk, and enjoyed the invigorating smell of ocean-fresh air. I constantly hear stories about someone’s grandparents or cousins who started out in Long Beach.

I must admit that this column is biased, based on my personal feelings. I grew up in Long Beach. My late wife and I raised two daughters who were educated in the local schools. My parents owned a grocery store in the West End. For 23 years I represented the city in the State Assembly, and when I chaired the Ways and Means Committee, I looked for many ways to find funds for the Long Beach Medical Center.

So it is with a tinge of sadness that I reflect on the city’s current lack of hospital facilities. Long Island has many hospitals to serve its communities. The vast majority of them are within a 20-minute drive from home. Most are first-class operations and offer a wide variety of services.

 

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The Family Doctor is An Endangered Species

The Family Doctor is An Endangered Species

Lately I’ve seen many stories about different species that are threatened with extinction. Elephants are being killed by poachers, and buffalo are rarely seen unless you’re touring some remote area of North Dakota. To that ever-growing list you can add the family doctor.

In case you haven’t noticed, the doctor who was once minutes away when your child had a high fever is now at some local hospital, where he’s a member of the professional staff. Between government restrictions and skyrocketing insurance costs, one by one, doctors are either leaving their practices or seeking the shelter of large institutions.

Trapped in the cycle of cuts in patient reimbursement and the need to see multiple patients in one day, the family physician is slowly disappearing. All over this region we see a new form of medical care, in the form of the walk-in doctor’s office. There is no doubt that the doctors working there are competent, but the idea of bonding with a walk-in doctor is a fantasy.

By now, most of us have seen an enormous spike in health insurance costs. Some of that increase goes to providing care for more patients under the Affordable Care Act, but a good chunk of it goes to the insurance companies, which figure you’re trapped and can’t go elsewhere. Once upon a time, a policyholder paid a modest co-pay. Currently the out-of-pocket grows bigger with each new policy, and is out of reach to a lot of families with urgent medical needs.

Another example of the decline in hands-on medicine is when you’re a hospital patient. I had the misfortune of being one in the past few weeks, and it was an eye-opener. Your physician does visit you to discuss your case, and that promise is kept. But once upon a time you would see doctors in training. They were the team of people who would wake you up early in the morning to discuss your case and report to your doctor.

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NYRA On Track to Privatization

NYRA On Track to Privatization

Jerry Kremer spoke with the Legislative Gazette regarding the New York Racing Authority’s plan for restructuring:

“The New York Racing Association, expecting its first operating surplus in nearly 15 years, says it has begun the process of re-privatization with a restructuring plan expected by April 15 of next year.

NYRA CEO and President Christopher Kay expects a budget surplus of $1.5 million for 2014, and even higher surpluses through 2016. This surplus doesn’t take into consideration revenues from Video Lottery Terminals at the Aqueduct.

“Our business plan reflects a business headed in the right direction,” they said.

The surplus comes at an opportune time for NYRA, which operates the state’s three thoroughbred tracks — Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont.


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