The deal is done.
The United Federation of Teachers general membership approved their proposed contract with the city, the first in five years, on Tuesday. The union said the deal passed with more than 77 percent of the roughly 90,000 votes cast in favor.
Given the crisis embroiling the Department of Veterans Affairs over healthcare delays that may have contributed to dozens of deaths, President Obama’s announcement that military forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 could hardly have come at a better time.
The president’s plan is to reduce the number of forces still fighting the nation’s longest war to just under 10,000 next year and to have nothing but embassy staff and security there by the end of 2016, the end of his presidency. There were more than 100,000 servicemen and women deployed to Afghanistan at the height of the war launched in 2001 in response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Veteran state Sen. Toby Stavisky, (D-Flushing), who has represented the 16th District for 14 years, will be challenged in the fall Democratic primary by at least one opponent, SJ Jung.
Jung announced Tuesday he is running as a reformer “who refuses to accept politics as usual.” Also considering throwing his hat in the ring is attorney John Messer, who ran against Stavisky in 2010 and 2012. He told the Chronicle he is seriously considering a run this year and will announce his decision soon.
One of the highlights of Bill de Blasio’s campaign for mayor was his arrest at a protest against the closure of another city hospital. Mr. de Blasio’s primary solution was, and continues to be, to throw money at the problem, but unless we address the spiraling costs of lawsuits, New York hospitals will continue to close.
Due to lawsuits, medical liability insurance in New York costs more than anywhere else in the United States — double that of the next highest state, California. Despite these outrageous costs, we as taxpayers are forced to subsidize our broken medical liability insurance system — to the tune of $150 million a year.
But it is more than a cost problem. As these hospital closings show, New York’s astronomical medical liability costs are affecting access to healthcare, often by those who need it most. In New York, 19 hospitals have closed since 2000, leaving several neighborhoods underserved. Many still recall the 2008 attempted closure of Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital’s maternity ward because of liability costs.
Frivolous lawsuits are a key driver of the cost of medical liability insurance in New York. According to a study at the Harvard School of Public Health, over half of medical malpractice lawsuits analyzed were frivolous or of uncertain merit.
We must enact common sense lawsuit reforms to solve our medical liability crisis. Until we do so, New York’s hospitals will continue to close, Mr. de Blasio’s protests notwithstanding.
As election day nears, voters were given another opportunity to become better informed via “Meet the Candidate Night” at St. John’s University on Monday evening.
The forum included the participation of the two leading candidates for borough president along with the candidates for City Council from districts 23 and 24.
The newest and most controversial candidate in the mayoral race, Anthony Weiner, said he knows he’s got a lot to prove but believes New Yorkers will be looking forward when choosing the next mayor this fall.
“We’re making a big mistake if we think that voters are looking to the past,” Weiner said in a sitdown last Friday with the Queens Chronicle staff, the first of his candidacy. “When they go to flip that switch, it is a fundamental, forward-looking, aspirational thing.”
Re “Reform the entitlements,” by Lenny Rodin, Letters, Dec. 13:
When a system is broke, it must be changed. A Band-Aid will not help. That the U.S. healthcare system is broke has been known by the public and physicians for some time. However, it is easily fixable, i.e., by a one-payer or other universal system.
In round figures, the United States spends $2.8 trillion a year, or approximately 18 percent of GDP on healthcare. The next most expensive nation spends 12 percent. The difference would amount to 840 billion for the U.S., yet we as a nation have or recently had approximately 50 million people uninsured.
The other industrialized nations cover all people and at less cost, and in addition have equal or better results — a win-win situation. In no case have any of these nations reverted back to a privatized system. As a matter of fact their healthcare systems are an off the table item, whether there is a Socialist or Conservative head of government.
Although it is not well-publicized, most of our politicians are aware of the above situation, but they do little to either educate or inform their constituents, because they are beholden to the moneyed people who fund them, ergo, they’ve sold out the public. That’s the story in a nutshell.
The writer is a retired physician.
A sly disposition matched with hubris; mixing talk of nuclear energy technology with stop and frisk. Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) is the sort of guy who can arrest your attention by crossing oceans of topics, and he wants to take that ubiquity to Congress in a run for the open 6th Congressional seat.
To say Halloran’s reputation precedes him is an understatement. The councilman has had public run-ins with every major power broker at the City level and a whole host of agency and community figureheads who have managed to draw his ire. He brings the same principled hubris to his Congressional candidacy. Halloran is a bit more casual about it.
The Health and Human Services committees of Community Boards 4 and 5 met in a special joint session at Borough Hall on Monday night.
Six of the candidates vying to replace Grace Meng in the state Assembly’s 40th District gathered at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library on Thursday night for a candidate forum sponsored by the MinKwon Center.
More than 200 residents packed into the library’s auditorium to hear discussions on issues including taxes, small business and immigration.
In January 2012, more than a quarter of a million seniors around our state were affected by major cuts to New York’s Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage prescription-drug program. Consequently, EPIC provided prescription-drug coverage only after a member fell into the Medicare prescription coverage gap (the “doughnut hole”) when the total drug costs for an individual reached $2,930.
The decision by the Supreme Court last Thursday to uphold most of the controversial Affordable Care Act of 2010 — also known as Obamacare — was received pretty much along party lines by Queens elected officials.
The 5-4 ruling by the country’s highest court was a major victory for President Obama, but Republican opponents are continuing to call for the law’s repeal.
The decision by the Supreme Court Thursday to uphold the controversial Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — was received pretty much along party lines by Queens elected officials.
The Harley Davidson rider, guitar player, area school story-time reader and hard-on-crime Astoria councilman unapologetically spoke his mind about several issues concerning his district at the Queens Chronicle office on Friday. In fact, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.’s no-filter approach, he said, has prompted him for about two years to not ride the trains — fearing physical confrontations with people opposing him, some of whom have assaulted him in the past. However, although some disagree, many back the councilman as shown by his 10 years in office and over $1 million raised for future campaigns.
He touched on how power plants need to burn clean, how illegal immigrants who are arrested should be deported, how stop and frisk cuts crime and how he is seriously thinking about running for borough president.
Americans consume more prescription drugs than any other country in the world. With more prescription narcotics available than ever before, prescription drug addiction is the largest growing drug problem in the country — currently exploding among teens.
The Borough of Queens is no exception, and last week’s article in our news series on the issue, showed that prescription drugs are readily available — with teens getting them from even their own parents’ medical cabinet. But the availability is not only due to over-prescribing and the circulation of unused drugs. Prescription forgeries, pharmacy robberies and black market dealing are increasing methods to acquire the drugs. And legislators and police are escalating efforts against the problem.
At a price of $515 for a simple trip to the hospital emergency room, not counting mileage, a ride in a New York City ambulance isn’t cheap. But the Fire Department now seeks to increase the price of a ride to $704— a nearly 37 percent increase over the current rate. The fees previously saw a hike three years ago.
“We periodically revisit our rates for our services,” FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer wrote in an email to The New York World. “This is being done to help defray the costs for the services we provide — the best pre-hospital care in the world.”
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) fielded some tough questions at a joint meeting of the Queens Colony and Bellerose Commonwealth civic associations in Jamaica on Friday.
Attendees were concerned about a variety of issues including healthcare, the Iraq War, the budget and, of course, the controversy surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn), but most inquiries seemed to surround illegal immigration, with the discussion becoming heated at times.
Mostly middle class Rego Park is the highest billing ZIP code in the state for Medicaid, according to a recently published news report.
But the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General told the Chronicle this week that it’s for good reason: one of the largest managed care companies in the Empire State is headquartered in 11374.
Robbing us blind
Three elected officials representing Astoria took their oaths of office at the Museum of the Moving Image last Thursday and discussed what they hoped to accomplish in their upcoming terms.