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Views and comments expressed in Letters To Editor are the opinions of the writer not Smithtown Matters.

Thursday
Jun152017

Letter to Editor - Zeldin Champions Healthcare Bill That Eviscerates Addiction Coverage

I read Mr. Zeldin’s op-ed concerning the opioid epidemic in wonderment.  It is hard to disagree with his view that the opiod epidemic is a crisis America needs to confront.  But, to see Mr. Zeldin pound his chest over his so-called achievements is an insult to all of us. 

He has already broken his promise to “continue working to advance legislation that helps those coping with drug addiction, by increasing treatment and recovery services to stop the tragic loss of life, family, and community as a result of addiction.”  House Republicans just approved a health care bill (of which Mr. Zeldin is still an outspoken champion) that, in the view of experts, make the epidemic even worse — by repealing Obamacare protections for access to drug addiction treatment. 

The Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) required insurers to cover ten essential health benefits, one of which is mental health services and addiction treatment. 

In contrast, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), the Republican health care bill, allows states to get waivers to this requirement that would allow state insurers to exclude mental health services and addiction treatment from the coverage available.  

Before Obamacare, it was fairly common for insurers to leave out addiction treatment in their plans. If someone with a drug use disorder wanted coverage, she would need to find a more expensive plan that did include addiction treatment — and perhaps she wouldn’t be able to find a plan, particularly an affordable one, at all.  Obamacare solved that problem.

An analysis of Obamacare concluded that it helped 2.8 million Americans with drug use disorders and nearly 1.3 million with serious mental disorders. Under Mr. Zeldin’s AHCA, these people would stand to lose addiction and mental health coverage if essential health benefits were repealed. 

The AHCA’s waiver provision is not the only hurdle to obtaining addiction coverage.  Several other aspects of the AHCA threaten to reduce health coverage, particularly to people who rely on coverage to get drug treatment. 

Over the next few years, the AHCA would phase out the Medicaid expansion. It would pull back Obamacare’s tax credits, as well as regulations that shield older people from high premiums, effectively making coverage more expensive for older, low- income Americans.  It also cuts Medicaid by transitioning its benefits to a “per capita cap” system or a block grant system that gives states less money for the program, on top of imposing a work requirement for Medicaid eligibility. 

Obviously, losing access to Medicaid and other insurance would hurt a lot of people in general, removing access to any health care. But one of the forms of health care that is most affected here would be coverage for drug treatment. And those most affected will low-income people, for whom the cost of insurance will not be offset by the proposed tax credit plan under the AHCA.  This group simply will not be able to afford addiction-related care.  So millions of Americans with drug use disorders stand to suffer under the bill — in the middle of the deadliest drug crisis in US history. 

For Mr. Zeldin to brag about his efforts to fight the opiod endemic in the face of championing a healthcare bill that will eviscerate coverage borders on outrage.  This is just a continuation of his penchant for deceiving his constituency over his actions in Congress.  

Bruce Colbath

Monday
Feb272017

Letters To Editor - East Hampton Airport Commuter Charter Flights Endanger Health And Pollute

 

 

Dear Editor,

 

I refer to the Suffolk CloseUp column, by Karl Grossman, printed in the February 23rd, 2017 edition. 

The column highlighted the ongoing problem for many Long island residents living beneath the FAA-mandated North Shore Helicopter Route to East Hampton Airport. One of the most egregious facts about East Hampton airport’s noisy commuter air traffic is that it impacts far greater numbers of residents in western Suffolk and Nassau counties than it does in the Town of East Hampton. Far greater numbers. 

The airport is situated on the western boundary of East Hampton Town, so those impacted by the traffic are largely residents of OTHER towns. From Jan to Aug 2016 (the only data available), the airport had 20,070 operations. (In 2015, there were over 25,000 operations reported.) Noise is not the only issue, perhaps more troubling long term is the toxic fuel emission particulate matter dispersed over our communities. There is no benefit from this private travel for residents outside of East Hampton, but our quality of life, health and well-being are being compromised more and more every year. This air travel is travel for the convenience of a few, at the detriment of many and of our environment;  it is estimated that many commuter aircraft have far fewer passengers than they can accommodate and on one leg of a roundtrip to or from East Hampton many aircraft carry no passengers at all; commuter charter operators are endangering our health and polluting our air for profit. Its time our elected representatives took action to protect their constituents. 

Patricia Currie

Town of Southampton

Wednesday
Jan252017

Letter To Editor - What Matters To You?

WHAT REALLY MATTERS…
Respect for the Office of the President matters.  Peaceful opposition to that Office 
matters.   First Amendment Rights; “Congress shall make no law respecting an 
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the 
freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and 
to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” matters.  Honest reporting, not 
fake news, matters. A strong Military matters  Blue Lives matter.  Black Lives matter.  
Women’s Rights matter.  Love matters.  Choice matters.  Affordable Health Care matters.  
All Human Rights matter.
 
Smithtown Matters. Housing that young professionals can afford matter.  Master Plans 
matter.  Civic and community groups matter.  Sewers matter.  More parking spaces 
matter.  Economic Development matter. Jobs matter. School District consolidation 
matters.  Governmental grants matter. Paying one’s fair share of taxes matter.  Political 
Parties matter. Leadership matters.  Compromise, Cooperation, Compassion matter.  Just 
complaining about it does not.  Elections and Voting matter.  WHAT REALLY 
MATTERS TO YOU?

 

Richard Macellaro

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