April 20, 2010

Amherst Club

          Notes of the Meeting of April 20, 2010  

President Larry Siddall opened the meeting.  There were no guests, and only one announcement!  Joan Hanson announced that she made a poster board display containing information about the Club for public occasions, such as Love Notes of the Amherst Fair.  The posters were on view at the back of the room.  Club members expressed their thanks to Joan for her beautiful work and commitment to the Club. 

Harry Brooks introduced the speaker of the day, Isaac BenEzra, MSW, ACSW, Family Mediator and Amherst Club member.  Mr. Brooks read a two-page resume of Mr. BenEzra’s achievements – organization of polio inoculation clinics in PA, a project to serve victims of age discrimination in employment,  treasurer of a non-profit shelter for the homeless, teaching in both PA and MA, host and producer of ACTV’s “Conversations”, and more. 

The title of Mr. BenEzra’s talk was “The Myths and Realities of Health Care Reform.” 

He began by giving a brief history of the opposition to Medicare, which was similar to today’s struggle for health care reform.  Medicare legislation passed in 1965 under President Johnson’s leadership.  The opposition at that time was the AMA, John Birch Society, Republican Party, the insurance industry, the State of Ohio, and hospitals in the South in particular.  (Integration of hospitals had not happened at that time.)  In support were public health advocates, nurse associations, labor, civil rights organizations, the Democratic Party.  The result of that intense battle was a watered down bill.  Many cuts were made, including no Rx plan and no control of costs.  Sound similar? 

For the 2010 Health Care legislation, some of the players switched sides, such as the AMA.  But the difficult fight remained, and the “Comprehensive Health Care” bill looks like a slice of Swiss cheese, BenEzra said. 

Mr. BenEzra gave examples of newspaper headlines that distorted the contents of the legislation.  For example, the NY Times Business Day declared on 3/22/10 that the bill would be a boon for hospitals and drug users. 

Several aspects of the bill were outlined, such as some preventive care benefits, no cap on insurance premiums, phased in benefits that may not take place for several years.   

Mr. BenEzra concluded that we should take what we have at present, but work together to improve the program.   . 

Cynthia Brubaker noted that currently there are 14 states working on a Single Payer program, including Massachusetts.  Pennsylvania is leading the way for passage at the State, not federal, level.  She said that there are 40-50 organizations working together to advocate for a Single Payer program.   

Vivian Carey won the wine of the day.  Joan Hanson won the lottery money. 

Respectfully submitted,

Carolyn Holstein, scribe for the day