Slow Death of the Neighborhood Doctor

Slow Death of the Neighborhood Doctor

(As featured in the Huffington Post)

New York has another name to add to its endangered species list — the individual family doctor.

No one enjoys dealing with insurance companies, especially when you are trying to obtain coverage for a medical procedure. Spending hours on the phone, or going back and forth over bills or pre-authorization for a test, can make anyone’s blood boil. Now imagine if that was your job.

For many physicians throughout New York State, negotiating with insurance companies has become a primary component of their job description. Your average small family doctor may spend more time trying to get an insurer to cover a visit than he or she does caring for actual patients.

A new study by WalletHub.com has highlighted some of these issues and has dubbed New York one of the worst states for doctors to practice medicine.

The repercussions are clear. Patients’ wait times are increasing and the time spent with the physician is getting shorter. Individual physician practices have very little ability to negotiate one-on-one with large insurance companies, because they are too small. However, if the law allowed them to group together with other small practices to negotiate contracts, patients would receive better care and have more of their medical bills covered.

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It’s all about the money in politics

It’s all about the money in politics

(Originally Featured in the Long Island Herald)

If I say the words “Citizens United,” you might think I’m referring to some community action group or maybe a new local bank. But thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, Citizens United has diminished the value of your vote on Election Day and added to the public’s cynicism about voting.

In 2010, the court was asked to decide whether there should be a limit on the amount of money that is given to political candidates and committees. The court decided that the sky’s the limit, and got us into a mess that undermines the American political system.

Most voters think that when they go to the polls, their votes count. In state and local elections, they do count. The money spent in New York state on political contests is substantial, but there’s still a chance for an outsider, with limited funds, to win an election. There are some odd cases, of course, like the $70 million plus spent by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to win another term, and the $35 million spent by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to beat an underfunded and weak opponent.

Times have changed, and these days there is heavy pressure on candidates to raise a lot of money, even if they’re candidates for a seat on a local school board. My first election campaign, in 1965, had a budget of $7,500, and I had to borrow money to get to that goal. My last contest, in 1989, cost $125,000, and I didn’t have a serious opponent.

8 Questions with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

8 Questions with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

Long Island Pulse  asked  Jerry Kremer to interview New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Their conversation encompassed everything from Long Island’s progress in the fight against prescription and street opiates to labor and gun laws and tensions between police and civilians.

 

Jerry Kremer: What is your evaluation of measures like I-STOP that are geared at controlling Long Island’s prescription drug problem?

Eric Schneiderman: I-STOP has been a tremendous success. When I took office, I proposed legislation that created the nation’s first real-time tracking system for the most additive prescription drugs, which has helped prevent drug addicts from doctor shopping. Since I-STOP took effect the Department of Health has reported that incidents of doctor shopping are down 75 percent in New York.

Click here for more questions and answers

Presidential Leadership Matters

Presidential Leadership Matters

by Anthony Figliola

President Harry S. Truman, a Democrat, made the difficult call of releasing nuclear weapons upon Japan, which brought an end to World War II. President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, invested heavily in our nation’s defense, believing that a decisive United States would send a clear message to the world and hasten the fall of the Soviet Union.

President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, understood the importance of the State of Israel and solidified a military alliance with the nation that remains to this day, against strong opposition from the State Department and the Pentagon. President Ulysses S. Grant, a Republican, was the General of the Union Army who helped to win the Civil War and brought the country back together after many thought it was permanently torn apart.

These four men all represented different ideologies and opposing parties and yet all four possessed leadership and the ability to make tough decisions for the sake of our country when it was required. When they spoke, people listened and when they acted, America followed.

 

READ THE FULL ARTICLE @ HUFFINGTONPOST.COM 

In this corner, the governor. In the other, the teachers.

In this corner, the governor. In the other, the teachers.

Cuomo vs. Teacher Unionsby Jerry Kremer

The saying “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it” has been attributed to Mark Twain. You can add to that thought that everybody talks about public education but nobody does anything about it. The year 2015 will be the test to see if New York state will take any real action to make the public education system any better. There is only one guarantee at this stage, and that is that the battle in Albany will be brutal.

The issue of the fair distribution of school aid has been on the table for over 50 years, since before an infamous Levittown court case. Most of the parties to that lawsuit agreed that the way money was being distributed to school districts was unfair, and the courts tried to make it a little fairer. But fast-forward to 2015 and there’s no doubt that the distribution of school dollars is still tilted toward the wealthier school districts, while the poorer ones get the crumbs.

Much to their credit, the Long Island State Senate’s Republican delegation has insisted each year that suburban schools get no less than they got the previous year. But that doesn’t solve the problem of school districts that have no shopping malls or factories to create a tax bonanza. Those so-called poor districts aren’t just on Long Island; they’re all over the state. The vast majority of them are begging for their fair share, as they have children who look just like children all over the state.

 

Read the Full Article in the Long Island Herald