first_imgby Anne Galloway, www.vtdigger.org(link is external) April 27, 2011 In a historic vote on Tuesday, the Vermont Legislature created the enabling legislation for a first-in-the-nation universal health care system. The state Senate approved the visionary plan for a single-payer system in a 21-9 vote after four hours of debate. The split was largely along party lines.Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, campaigned on a promise to create a single-payer system in Vermont that would contain health care costs and give all of the state’s residents universal access to medical care. On Tuesday, Shumlin made good on the first step toward fulfilling that promise, and just five hours after the Senate vote, he marked the legislative victory in an appearance on MSNBC’s ‘The Rachel Maddow Show.’Shumlin said in a statement to the Vermont press: ‘Today the Legislature took a huge step toward making Vermont the first state in the first in the nation to control skyrocketing health care costs and remove the burden of providing health care coverage from small business owners. This bill is good for Vermonters and Vermont businesses.Many Vermont businesses, however, believe otherwise. Though small employers have said they will benefit, some larger employers actively lobbied against the bill. Opponents of H.202 argued that the legislation would leave businesses in the lurch during the transition period between 2013 and 2014 when the state is required under federal law to participate in insurance exchanges. The opposition was led by insurance brokers (the Fleischer Jacobs Group, Business Resource Specialists), business associations (Vermont Chamber of Commerce, Vermont Grocers Association and Vermont Retailers Association), large employers (Dealer.com, Biotek, Rhino Foods and IBM). The Senate debate on Monday and Tuesday centered on changes to the legislation that would have made it more palatable to these groups.Sen. Vince Illuzzi, R/D-Essex Orleans, who proposed two amendments that would have made the bill more business friendly, said companies are afraid ‘we will end up with a plan most won’t be able to afford.’The legislation sets the state’s health care system on a new trajectory. Instead of continuing to use an insurance model for covering the cost of care, the bill moves the state toward an integrated payment system that would be controlled by a quasi judicial board and administered by a third party entity. The system would be funded through a broad-based tax.The universal health care system would be implemented in 2014, if it clears 10 very high hurdles, including the receipt of a federal waiver. Otherwise it wouldn’t kick in until 2017.Longtime single-payer advocate Dr. Deb Richter was ecstatic about the Senate passage of the bill.‘I’m absolutely thrilled,’ Richter said. ‘It’s one of the best days of my life. I’ve given 400 speeches over the last 10 years and it feels like the work was worth it. We have a ways to go, but this is a step in the right direction.’A universal health care system is the only way to cover everyone and contain costs, Richter said.The passage of H.202 marks the first time any state in the country has attempted to provide universal care and a cost containment system that addresses administrative costs, hospital budgeting and uniform payments to doctors, Richter said.Whether the federal government will give Vermont a waiver to adopt a universal health care system in 2014 is an open question. Richter said the state has a 50-50 chance of getting the exemption from the Affordable Care Act. Even so, she believes Vermont’s attempt to create a single-payer system is worthwhile.‘You go for what you want, not for what you think you might get ‘ that’s what the bill does,’ Richter said.The Senate debate focused on the state’s implementation of the insurance exchanges that are required under federal law. The Affordable Care Act has mandated that states provide an actuarial value for insurance products (the insurance equivalent of a per unit price mechanism that allows consumers to compare the cost of on the shelf grocery items). The federal government has set up very general guidelines for the actuarial levels for insurance products insurers must provide under the exchange. The idea is to create an easy system for comparison between health insurance benefit plans that offer a dizzying array of deductibles, co-insurance, co-pays and premiums. The products, under the federal requirements, range from bronze (60 percent actuarial value) to silver (70 percent), gold (80 percent) and platinum (90 percent). It also puts minimum requirements on the ‘qualifying plans.’ Many of these mandates are already in Vermont law. Insurers, for example, are not allowed to ‘cherry pick’ consumers who are healthy and create pools without a cross-section of the sick and healthy populations.Read this summary of the ACA requirements from Kaiser Foundation.The Affordable Care Act requires individuals without insurance to buy into the exchange or face a $695 fine. Families of four with incomes of less than $88,700 qualify for tax credits. Businesses with more than 50 employees that do not buy insurance face a penalty of $2,000 per worker.The fight between employers and proponents of H.202 was about the potential for mandatory inclusion of businesses that have between 50 and 100 workers in the exchange. Sen. Hinda Miller, D-Chittenden, and Illuzzi argued that requiring companies of that size to participate in the exchange could jeopardize their economic viability. Employers in that range tend not to self-insure and so are not protected under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.The federal law allows states some flexibility. States can decide what benefit plan levels can be offered, for example. They can also determine the size of the businesses that must be included in the exchange. The Shumlin administration pushed for intent language in the bill that could have led to the inclusion of businesses with 50 to 100 employees into the exchange. Proponents of H.202 have said it’s important to include these 28,000 workers in the state’s insurance exchange in order to build toward a single-payer system.An amendment proposed by Sen. Diane Snelling, R-Chittenden, and approved by the Senate struck the intent language. The Green Mountain Care board, which will oversee the health care reform effort including the exchanges, is charged with producing a report that would outline the impact of excluding the 50-100 employee group on the exchange, which the Shumlin administration wants to use as a stepping stone toward the single-payer system.Illuzzi proposed two amendments that would have forced the state to include a broader array of insurance carriers in the exchange would have specifically allowed health savings accounts and high deductible plans under the exchange and would have allowed ‘nonqualified’ plans outside the exchange. H.202 allows for two carriers.‘Let’s not kid ourselves it will be more than one carrier,’ Illuzzi said on the Senate floor. ‘It will likely be Blue Cross Blue Shield. It will be two carriers in name only. Both will be required to offer same (plans). It will be a change without a difference.’Anya Rader Wallack, Shumlin’s special assistant on health care, said she was impressed by the Legislature.‘A lot of people worked very hard educating themselves in a short period of time,’ Wallack said. ‘This isn’t simple stuff. I was impressed with the amount of effort both bodies have put into this.’The Shumlin administration was heavily involved in drafting the bill, H.202, though by the time the legislation reached final passage it had changed somewhat from its original incarnation, which was based in part on recommendations from Professor William Hsiao, the renowned Harvard economist who created a single payer system for Taiwan.Over the next year, the Shumlin administration will hire a director of health care reform and the chair of a quasi-judicial board. The board would be in place by January of 2012 and would begin the arduous task of sorting through the maze of federal laws, waivers, benefits, provider reimbursements, system financing and cost containment options.H.202 will be read in the House Health Care Committee on Wednesday morning. Rep. Mark Larson, D-Burlington, said he expects the bill will go to conference committee in several days. He expects to have no major beefs with the Senate version.‘The core composition of the bill remains identical to what passed in the House,’ Larson said. ‘There are differences between the two bills but they are things we can work out.’Larson said those details include a change in the dynamic of the board. ‘We want to make sure it’s an independent board.’He also referred to the so-called ‘Mullin’ amendment, which set conditions for implementation of Green Mountain Care, the single-payer style system that would be created under H.202. Larson said he thinks the new criteria for the implementation standards need to be more clearly defined.‘It has to be clear what hurdle has to be overcome,’ Larson said.Anne Galloway is editor of vtdigger.orglast_img read more


first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A man who allegedly fled a Nassau County police officer who stopped the minivan he was driving died when the ensuing chase ended in a high-speed crash that also killed his passenger in Elmont, authorities said.A highway patrolman pulled over a Dodge Caravan on Main Street in Hempstead when the driver, 23-year-old Eduardo Sosa Zapata of Westbury, allegedly backed the minivan twice into the officer’s patrol car while the officer was walking up shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday, police said.Zapata then fled eastbound on Center Street, police said. Shortly later, Fifth officers spotted the Dodge speeding westbound on Hempstead Turnpike, when they struck a northbound Ford at the corner of Meacham Avenue, police said.The minivan then hit a nearby utility pole, killing Zapata and his passenger, 22-year-old Jackeline Reyes of Bellmore, police said. The other driver, a 22-year-old man, refused medical attention at the scene.Homicide Squad detectives impounded both vehicles and are continuing the investigation.last_img read more


first_imgTopics : Rochester, New York’s police chief abruptly resigned on Tuesday along with his command staff, saying there had been a “mischaracterization and politicization” of his actions following the death of Daniel Prude in police custody.Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren told a City Council meeting that she had not asked Chief La’Ron Singletary to resign, though she said there was “information that was brought to light today that I have not previously seen before.” She did not elaborate.Rochester, a city of 200,000 people on Lake Ontario, erupted with protests last week after the Prude family released body camera footage showing officers had used a mesh hood and pinned Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, to the pavement during the March arrest. “The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.”Warren, who has also come under pressure for the handling of Prude’s arrest and death, said Singletary’s deputy, Joseph Morabito, had also retired and that “there may be a number of others that will decide to leave as well.”The mayor said she was unsure when the retirements would take effect.Free the People ROC, a local Black Lives Matter group, welcomed the resignations in a Facebook post but demanded more.”Let’s keep the pressure up until all those responsible for Daniel Prude’s murder and cover up — including Mayor Lovely Warren – have resigned, taken responsibility and donated their pensions to the families they allowed to be harmed,” it wrote.Warren apologized to the Prude family last week and suggested she had been misled by Singletary – an allegation he denied. Singletary also pointed to his ordering of an internal investigation soon after the incident.The Rochester police union’s head, Michael Mazzeo, defended the officers last week, saying they followed procedure in using the so-called “spit hood,” necessary because Prude claimed he had the coronavirus. Mazzeo also said Singletary’s office told him after the arrest there were “no concerns” with the officers’ actions.center_img The release of the footage five months after Prude’s death had raised questions of a possible cover-up and turned Rochester into the latest flashpoint in a summer of protests over racial injustice first sparked by George Floyd’s May 25 death.Seven police officers involved in the arrest were suspended last week. The medical examiner ruled Prude’s death a homicide by asphyxiation, with the drug PCP a contributing factor. He was having a psychotic episode when he was arrested.Black Lives Matter activists had called for Singletary’s resignation. But as recently as Sunday, amid a weekend of demonstrations, he had said he intended to stay on, and Warren backed him. Both he and the mayor are Black.”As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,” Singletary said in a statement, noting his 20 years on the force.last_img read more


first_imgA lengthy article detailing new allegations of sexual assault against film director Bryan Singer—originally planned for publication in Esquire after a year-long investigation—landed at The Atlantic on Wednesday after being killed by Hearst executives, according to the two Esquire staffers who investigated and wrote the story.“We have been asked why a story reported and written by two Esquire writers is being published in The Atlantic,” read a statement from Esquire editor-at-large Maximillian Potter and writer-at-large Alex French that was posted on The Atlantic PR team’s Twitter account Wednesday afternoon.“This story began with our editors at Esquire. After months of reporting, the story went through Esquire‘s editorial process, which included fact-checking and vetting by a Hearst attorney, and the story was approved for publication. The story was then killed by Hearst executives. We do not know why.”“We feel fortunate that The Atlantic decided to work for us,” the statement continues, “and we are grateful that the piece has gone through The Atlantic‘s thoughtful editorial process, which included another rigorous fact-check and robust legal vetting. We are most grateful that the alleged victims now have a change to be heard and we hope the substance of their allegations remains in focus.”Reps for Hearst Magazines and Esquire have not responded to requests for comment. Observers were quick to draw parallels to Ronan Farrow’s assertion that NBC News executives had punted his investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual assault and harassment (which Farrow eventually brought to The New Yorker), an assertion that NBC has repeatedly denied.“The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997,” read Wednesday’s statement from Singer in response to The Atlantic‘s story, which stems from a 12-month investigation and cites 50 sources, including detailed accounts from four accusers. “After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism. That didn’t stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic. It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity.”Singer’s statement Wednesday—which followed an earlier, preemptive denial issued on Instagram in October—went on to dismiss the article as a “homophobic smear piece.”“The writers spent 12 months investigating various lawsuits and allegations against Singer,” Anna Bross, The Atlantic’s senior director of communications, tells Folio:. “This article has been thoroughly reported, sourced, researched, and fact-checked. We have full confidence in this reporting and in our publication of this investigation.”This is a developing story.last_img read more


first_img-A station master was temporarily suspended in Sirajganj on Wednesday night as ruling Bangladesh Awami League MP Tanvir Imam fell down while getting out of a running train on Monday, reports UNB.According to locals, on 4 September, Tanvir Imam, MP for Sirajganj-4 constituency, was getting out of the running Dhaka-bound train Chitra Express after seeing off his wife when he slipped.Later, he was taken to the Station Master’s room for primary treatment where his supporters started beating Abdul Baten, the assistant station master leaving him with a broken hand, said Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Pakshi, Ashim Kumar Talukder.After that, on Wednesday night station master Shamsul Alam was temporarily suspended and a two-member committee was formed to investigate the incidents, added the DRM.When asked, MP Tanvir, denying the fact of beating the assistant station master, said, the station master is lying to protect himself.However, the suspended station master said if it was notified that the MP or his wife will get off, then the train could have been stopped for a while.last_img read more