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Cooperative effort necessary to solve health care issues

Friday, January 25, 2013
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Cooperative effort necessary to solve health care issues

Health care reform is local. If we’re going to stem the tide of rising health care costs, provide coverage to the uninsured, and help small and large business owners thrive in a post-recession era, the solutions are not going to come from Washington.

Last week, we took a step in the right direction when nearly 1,000 people packed The Egg to hear local leaders talk practical solutions to health care reform.

From hospital executives to primary care physicians, academic leaders to students, politicians to business owners, they came out to tackle one of the greatest social and economic issues of our time.

The event featured a keynote speech from New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and Harvard professor, one of the most influential voices in health care. The keynote was followed by a discussion on health care quality by panelists including [the CEOs of] Albany Medical Center, St. Peter’s Health Partners, and Ellis Medicine and SEFCU; the associate dean of UAlbany’ School of Public Health; and CapitalCare Medical Group’s medical director.

As panel moderator I asked the group, “What should we be doing as a community to improve the quality of health care in this region?” The panelists’ answers pointed me to two common themes: collaboration and sharing of information.

The Capital Region is a gold mine, rich with universities, hospital systems, business leaders and state government. If we’re going to achieve meaningful health care reform, we must capitalize on these resources, stop working in silos, and bring the business owners who are paying the bills to the table.

Health care reform is bigger than CDPHP. It’s bigger than Albany Med, St. Peter’s or any one of these private organizations. If we begin the process of pooling our ideas, sharing best practices and data, we may be able to achieve what the Capital Region — and the nation — badly need.

John D. Bennett, M.D.

Albany

The writer is president and CEO of Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, Inc.

MLK/Inauguration Day no day to run Harsanyi

On a day set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work for racial equality, economic justice and nonviolence that is simultaneously celebrated as Inauguration Day, The Daily Gazette printed a column by David Harsanyi with the unfortunate title, “King Barack makes feeble case for gun control.” It dishonored both the memory of Dr. King and the office of President Obama.

The column itself was little more than a disjointed catalog of right-wing talking points, half-truths and misrepresentations dressed up with moral superiority that the author and many like him seem to think they represent.

For example, he dismisses the idea that the NRA is “ginning up” people’s fears of gun control and then astonishingly refers to “a president who trots out 7-year-olds to shield him from debate.” Would he mean the slain children or the letter writers present at the executive order signing? He says this while ignoring the horrible NRA ad that featured the president’s own children, widely considered to be over the line.

And while Harsanyi posits that the president is being shielded from the gun debate today, tomorrow he will complain legislation is being shoved down our throats. He refers to those executive orders as being “cynically political” or “completely useless,” and solicits advice from Sen. Rand Paul describing Obama as wanting to “bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress.”

Of course, not only is that nonsense, but also the majority of the executive orders deal with help for the mental health community and firearms safety and awareness. Is he opposed to those also? Again, of course not, he’s just opposed to Obama signing orders.

Harsanyi then runs down the usual laundry list of complaints about attacks on the Bill of Rights, Piers Morgan and the University of Chicago, peppered with some platitudes, then provides us with this gem: “It is amazing how many times this president uses majoritarian arguments to rationalize executive overreach.” He means Obama won a fair election with a huge majority in a representative democracy, and he doesn’t like it one bit.

The author worries about the fate of the Second Amendment and Bill of Rights; the president informs us that with rights come responsibilities. Somehow Harsanyi fails to mention this, but it is the fair application of these responsibilities that will keep us safe and strong, and protect our constitutional rights.

Paul Donahue

Niskayuna

Outside help needed for Lock 7 dam, floods

I was pleased by your Jan. 13 editorial on Lock 7 and [Stockade resident] Jim Duggan’s long effort to get a state agency, or politician, to consider the dam’s effect on flooding.

Having listened to Jim go on about this for years, in that time eventually convincing me with long essays, graphs, elevation maps and flood records, it would be nice to finally get some long-overdue state or federal expertise to provide answers.

The resistance is undoubtedly related to expense and inconvenience, but the cost of flooding has become far more inconvenient and expensive. Perhaps with the added support of [Union professor] John Garver and others, we will see the state do its duty to the people and, at long last, respond appropriately.

John M. Smith

Schenectady

Tedisco wants to stay on right side of NRA

Re Jan. 22 letter, “On guns, Tedisco is one with conspiracy theorists”: Robert Corliss says he believes the assemblyman owes us an explanation for his intemperate remarks about gun ownership protecting us from our government. I will try to answer on behalf of Mr. Tedisco.

The reason behind his remarks is money. The remarks do not have to make sense. They do not have to reflect his true beliefs, assuming he has any. They simply have to generate cash for his next campaign. The NRA will write a check. End of story.

Is he suborning treason and anarchy? Oh, yes! Does he care? Only if it becomes an issue in his next campaign.

Gun management, a less provocative term than control, is a highly emotional issue for a radical fringe. The funding used to stir up these emotions is provided by those who manufacture, sell and profit from the sale of dangerous toys to adult children.

By donating to a lobbying organization, these manufacturers escape the scrutiny caused by donating directly to politicians, which would be seen as being a form of bribery. The NRA provides the bribes under the guise of protecting rights, which results in recruiting through fear responsible gun owners who feel required to defend an irrational position. The illogical side of any emotional issue usually has the most money because logic seldom prevails.

Frank Elfland

Charlton

Gun foes should fret more about abortion

I was totally disgusted with Gov. Andrew Coumo and the gun legislation (among other things in his State of the State).

This idea of politicians “not letting a crisis go to waste” is getting very dangerous. This is the camel’s nose, head and neck under the tent for the Second Amendment. And, really, what criminal will be obeying these new laws?

Obama dragging kids into it to get more sympathy for national gun control really angered me, too. Those little ones up on the stage asking that he make things safer for them was so phony.

I think all the little kids should write Obama and Cuomo about protecting them in the womb. They should be writing letters about the horror of killing them before they are born and why are they not protected then. How many of those letter-writing kids would be trotted out to stand behind legislation for right-to-life?

Christine DeMaria

Clifton Park

Guns no problem if people had morals

Re Jan. 22 letter, “Big problem isn’t guns, but a lack of morality”: Kudos to Doug Bennett for identifying that the big problem isn’t guns, but a lack of morality.

Finally someone has pointed the finger at the real problem.

Bernd Ettrich

Malta

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