January 29, 2014

Obamacare Disaster

To the Editor,

I am the daughter of the owner of The Washwick Agency, Inc., the Administrator of the PBBA in Riverhead NY. My father is still working his Agency and I alongside of him. He started his business in 1979. His vision back then was to be a part of the local community, working with small business owners, to keep insurance rates down; as well as provide an underserved niche what it needed – an Agent who yes, saw an opportunity to make a living, but while doing so - being an Agent who cared.

I've watched my father sit with clients that brought in absolutely no money (never once making them aware of it) for lengthy appointments, because, as he said, "Who else will help them?" From the viewpoint of running the books, I'd add "and perhaps they have a friend who will do business with us and make up for it." But knowing my dad – it wouldn't bother him even if they didn't refer anyone.

As an "agent who cares," I am literally beside myself at the atrocities that have gone on in the market within the past few months. Why don't I see the horror stories of the "small groups and business owners" in the news?

Long Island is made up of the mom and pop stores, the husband and wife groups, the small partnerships that keep that small town feel - and yet NO ONE is reporting what horrible travesties are being done to them. Has the ACA plan helped some, and shouldn't that make up for the other stories?

Absolutely not.

About 500 of our groups and sole proprietors received termination letters back in October stating their plans were non-compliant with the Affordable Care Act. Husband and wife groups were told they were terminated, as you couldn't have a husband and wife on the books and use that to purchase health insurance with. People that had Out of Network benefits and chose to pay the higher premiums for that plan – were told they were terminated because they didn't meet the qualification of an employer group.

Individual plans were HMO's and we went through the nightmare of attempting to confirm networks, which was the first horror and still is.

We were bombarded with phone calls in the mass confusion to find them a plan that best suited their need. A plan "like" their current policy, but not even close.

Staff members here worked overtime, many nights until midnight to contact all those being terminated and get them applications in time for a January 1 effective date.

It is now January 20th and ID#'s are hard to come by if not existent at this point. Those with medical emergencies are being told to put it on credit cards and get reimbursement when ID cards are in. However, the Networks are still issues, the fact they need referrals in order to see a specialist – and can't because they can't obtain the referral without a policy #???

We have horror stories of those with severe medical emergencies who can't obtain lifesaving treatments.

To top it off – you now have doctors' offices and hospitals hanging signs that they are not taking Affordable Care Act Obamacare plans, not the drastic difference between the "exchange" and "off exchange" plans. Off exchange plans means these business owners were being terminated, due to the AFFORDABLE CARE ACT LAW that the insurance companies implemented, enrolled themselves in PRIVATIZED fully paid by the business owner insurance – did not enroll online, did not obtain "money off" their insurance premiums. This group of people who are in the "private insurance market" are being told that their local hospitals, their cancer treatment centers ARE NOT TAKING THE INSURANCE.

I'm beside myself. I worked my butt off on behalf of the clients my father has worked to assist. The staff here has worked tirelessly to ensure that most, if not all of those who utilized us to work with the insurance companies on their behalf – had insurance for 1/1/2014. It's sickening, maddening and as stated before an absolute travesty that we have not been able to do that despite our best efforts, despite time away from my own family to ensure the well-being of someone else (and I'll add it's for $15 pp commission a month). I can't get ID#'s and once I have someone who obtains it receives the ID# - they go for the treatment to find their doctor or hospital is no longer taking it. They can't "change" doctors because the doctors participating are dropping out like flies in the winter.

What are we doing? What has the TRUE nature of the Affordable Care Act done?

Why isn't it televised?? Why isn't it front-page news? No. The employers that cover more than 50 employees aren't affected "YET . . . until 2015, as the mandate was pushed off" but just how many OVER 50+ employee EMPLOYERS do we have on this Island? The MAJORITY, are small groups. The majority of small towns have businesses with an average of 1 – 10 employees.

They are the ones being hurt. They are the ones this is crucifying. And it isn't over yet.

I am still in support of the small businesses my father started assisting back in 1979 and I know I've done all I can with the insurance companies and will continue to lose sleep over this, but doing something is SAYING something too.

So I'm saying it to anyone I can.

Sharon Washwick

Rubber Stamp

To the Editor,

Your January 15 editorial "Open Government" hits the nail on the head and continues The Independent's tradition of holding our leadership accountable. Despite East Hampton Town Supervisor Cantwell's pledges of transparency, opaquely ramming through the promotion of the senior harbormaster to Director of Public Safety raises troubling questions.

As you noted, Ed Michels' tenure as senior harbormaster and earlier stint as head of the marine patrol was checkered at best. Despite these well-documented deficiencies and a "less than sterling resume," why was the Town Board willing to rubber-stamp this promotion without any public debate or discussion?

Such actions by the new board merit the watchful eye of the public and media alike. Kudos to The Independent for its vigilance. We'll get to the bottom of this, and also make it clear to Supervisor Cantwell that his rhetoric of openness and transparency must be matched by actions.


Hysterical Cry

Dear Editor,

I heard what I thought was a death cry coming from the kitchen and I yelled out to my wife: "What's wrong?" It turned out to be a hysterical cry of laughter from reading your column.

I told her I thought she was dying, and she replied with a RickMurphyism: "You should be so lucky."


Cheap Fix

Dear Editor,

This is a letter urging East Hampton to please put a stop to the USDA deer culling this winter. Besides the emotional and possible safety consequences of this massacre, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that deer culls do not work long term.

While culling may seem like an easy and cheap fix to the problem of overdevelopment, habitat, and predator reduction, it is at best temporary. It is certainly needless and barbaric and insulting to our intelligence as humans sharing this earth with other living creatures. There is no scientific evidence that culling in this manner is effective. Our community is highly visible to the rest of the world. We have a responsibility to show that East Hampton is compassionate and committed to preserving our way of life through progressive means, not brutal caveman tactics.

There are many studies showing that extreme and sudden reductions in deer populations simply invite more fertility in the remaining deer.

Successful deer population control has been demonstrated on Fire Island in a large scale: immuno-contraception.

In the case of Lyme disease, it also appears that culling deer does not affect the number of cases, as the "deer" tick is a multi host parasite and will simply find another of the 40 species it prefers, mice and small rodents being the most infectious to humans.

(Sources: Localized Deer Absence Leads to Tick Amplification, Ecology, 87(8), 2006, pp. 1981–1986, by S. Perkins, I. Cattadori, V. Tagliapietra, A. Rizzoli, and P. Hudson. And "Effects of Sustained Reduction of White-tailed Deer on the Abundance of Ixodes scapularis (Acari:Ixodidae) in an Endemic Lyme Disease areas in New Jersey," Roberto A. Jordan, Terry L. Schultze, and Margaret B. Jahn, Freehold Area Health Department, Journal of Medical Entomology, 44(5): 752Š757 (2007).)

Incomparable natural beauty is what draws people to our area. Wildlife is part of that beauty. Deer are part of that beauty. Shooting animals point blank in a gory horror show is not. Property damage to expensive landscaping can be reduced by using natural deterrents, such as capsaisin and peppermint oil and using plants that deer normally don't eat. Of course, nothing is 100 percent effective but there is no way to absolutely control natural surroundings. Why would you want to?

As the smarter animal in this situation we must find a better way to control the deer population. East Hampton's own study found that the deer population has sharply declined since 2006. We need to reconsider the deer culling in our area and find a better way that works for all living things.


Help Homeless Animals

Dear Editor,

The Westminster Kennel Club dog show's allowance of mutts in its agility competition is a step in the right direction, but it doesn't negate the show's contribution to the animal homelessness crisis that results in the deaths of many mutts (and purebreds) in shelters (AP).

Every time someone buys a dog from a breeder (as Westminster encourages viewers to do), a pup waiting in a shelter loses his or her chance at a loving home. Many of the puppies breeders produce in hopes of winning show titles go on to have litters of their own, bringing even more dogs into a world that doesn't have enough homes for those who already exist.

As long as dogs are dying from a lack of homes, there is no excuse for breeding more. I urge caring people to save lives by adopting their animal companions from shelters and having them spayed or neutered, instead of buying them from breeders or pet shops. For more ways to help homeless animals, visit www.PETA.org.


How Barbaric?

To The Editor,

Let's talk seriously about the upcoming scheduled deer massacre in East Hampton. As I understand it, the idea is to lure hungry deer into an enclosed feeding area at night where black suited expert riflemen with silencers will be waiting in and behind trees to pick them off.

The only trouble is that after the first deer is shot, the others will try to run as best as they're able, and the sharpshooters are bound to maim and grievously wound these moving targets who then will have to wait in unbearable pain to be finished off, execution style.

If they are lucky, and don't bleed to death first. Then the idea is to truck these bloodied animals to feed the hungry for many meals. The only trouble with that is you would need, I guess, several available meat inspectors to be sure that these animals are fit for consumption and there aren't enough FDA inspectors to inspect our regular meat supply as it is. Unless we don't care if the meat is inspected for the poor.

Another issue is dressing the dead deer, butchering them and freezing them. Do all these poor outlets have freezers? How will the meat keep? And don't you have to remove innards of deer shortly after the kill or the meat spoils? Where are you going to keep all these frozen carcasses? Has anybody worked this out? Or perhaps there's the possibility that these once beautiful creatures will just be loaded on trucks and dumped into mass grave somewhere that nobody mentions. How barbaric have we become?

Of course there is another, and possibly saner way to reduce the deer population which is to give the immunocontraception plan a real try, a real way to reduce the herd forever, if , in fact, there are areas of overabundance. Sounds like a plan. It has worked in other communities including Fire Island. East Hampton has the money earmarked for deer reduction and it could be achieved with birth control instead of bullets. This biting cold weather will already take its toll on the deer.

It also wouldn't hurt to take the time for a recount to resolve the wild discrepancy of deer numbers currently bandied about .

We really need to call off this kill and rethink our humanity, our ingenuity and ability to solve a problem without blowing our deer population off the face of the earth.


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