Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Boston Globe Editorial IDIOTS! Re: Massachusetts Healthcare Reform

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Massachusetts Mandated Healthcare INSURANCE!
www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/10/massachusetts-mandated-healthcare.html
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2/11/2008

Dear Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!,

In response to your myopic piece entitled, "The health law is working", below: I must inquire, "For Whom Is It Working For?"

To answer my own question, the answer is that the new health care laws in Massachusetts are working AGAINST the common taxpayer, but for the CORPORATE ELITE's Interests!

You, "Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!", note that Governor Deval Patrick is budgeting $869 million for Commonwealth Care in his FY2009 state budget proposal with approximately 1/2 the cost borne by the federal government, which has a projected record level $400 Billion FY2009 budget deficit of its own with record level cuts to domestic programs including healthcare insurance for the diminishing middle class. Moreover, the projected FY2009 Massachusetts Budget Deficit is recurringly over the $1 Billion mark!

That all means that Governor Deval Patrick is O.K. with BORROWING taxpayer $ from future generation to redistribute to a select few Massachusetts Insurance Companies administering healthcare insurance policies to the uninsured.

This is who benefits from the new Massachusetts healthcare insurance law:

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5 Massachusetts insurers control about 90 percent of the healthcare insurance market in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
#1 - Blue Cross Blue Shield
#2 - Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
#3 - Fallon Community Health Plan
#4 - Health New England
#5 - Tufts Health Plan
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There are also national healthcare insurance companies such as United HealthCare Insurance Co., Aetna, and CIGNA.
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Source: "200,000 may need to get more insurance: State healthcare law sets higher minimums" (By Alice Dembner, [The Boston]Globe Staff, January 30, 2007).
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The state's plan relies largely on two sources: federal funds that are committed only through June 30, 2008, and the state's free-care pool, now used to pay for charity care at hospitals and health centers.
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Source: "MANDATORY HEALTH INSURANCE | THE FIRST YEAR: Progress and perils - Thousands more in state have coverage under ambitious program, but challenges lie ahead over funding and getting message out to all" (By Alice Dembner, (Boston) Globe Staff, April 22, 2007).
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So who dares calls this a failure, "Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!"?
I am your man! MASSACHUSETTS' NEW HEALTHCARE LAWS ARE A FAILURE!

Moreover, it is a SCAM to screw the common taxpayer --under the false pretense of publicly assisting the many disadvantaged families that are the common man, woman and child-- that really only redistributes taxpayer money from the common taxpayer to the state's select and elite Insurance Companies administering healthcare insurance plans to the state's diminishing middle class. Moreover, it even takes money away from the state's free-care pool, now used to pay for charity care at hospitals and health centers, and redistributes it to the state's Corporate Elite Insurance Companies instead of directly to the uninsured and underinsured needy people.

Massachusetts new healthcare laws should use taxpayer money to administer a single-payer, truly universal healthcare coverage plan for all of its +6 Million residents, but it does nothing of the sort.

You, Boston Globe Editors, are IDIOTS! I dare you to publish my letter! I know you won't because you cannot handle one thing in your daily print: THE TRUTH!

I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live!

In Dissent!
Jonathan A. Melle

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A Boston GLOBE EDITORIAL
"The health law is working"
February 10, 2008

DON'T BE fooled by the national press coverage suggesting the Massachusetts health plan is in trouble. The plan is suffering from a bit too much success, but the state has the resources to pay for it this year and next.

Enrollment in Commonwealth Care, the subsidized insurance offering, is higher than anticipated, but Governor Patrick and the Legislature are ready to pay the extra costs this year. In the fiscal year that begins this July, the governor has budgeted $869 million for Commonwealth Care, but over half that increase will be defrayed by the federal government. Rising costs are inevitable as the plan is rolled out.

Barring a financial collapse, the state will have the money to pay for the health initiative through fiscal 2009. In case more is needed, House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray are talking about a cigarette tax increase. The Legislature will not let this initiative fail for want of money.

The state needs continued federal support for the plan. To seek this aid, it has to make three-year cost estimates. Much is uncertain about healthcare economics over the next few years, so it is wise not to panic about imprecise forecasts - in this case a $1.35 billion cost in 2011. Instead, providers, insurers, consumers, businesses, labor, and the government need to unite around a campaign to control costs.

Even though Massachusetts is a high-cost state, buffeted by competitors on all sides, and dependent on federal policies it cannot control, its elected representatives resolved to do what no state has ever attempted: require everyone (with hardship exemptions) to get health insurance and provide the means for most of them to afford it.

In a little less than two years, here's what Massachusetts has achieved:

Expanded Medicaid by 60,000 for the poor and near poor and children.

Established Commonwealth Care to provide insurance for adults living near poverty - more than 169,000 enrolled.

Created Commonwealth Choice policies for more affluent people - 16,000 enrolled.

Merged the individual and small-group markets so the self-employed can buy affordable insurance and encouraged businesses to set up programs so employees could get a tax savings on premiums - tens of thousands more enrolled in private insurance.

Structured an individual mandate so penalties only fall on those for whom affordable coverage is available.

Provided a national model to show how different interest groups can unite to support significant social progress.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to do something similar died in a California Senate committee recently. In Massachusetts, the coalition behind the health reform law is holding firm. The plan itself is creative and sound. Who dares call this a failure?

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2/27/2008

Dear Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!

You are missing the very point on "Healthcare Reform" in Massachusetts!

The State Government is presenting subsidized healthcare to the federal government in order to receive more federal funds and then give that federal taxpayer money to the state's corporate elite, wealthy insurance companies!

That is FRAUD!

Where is my proof? Well, Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!, here is my proof:

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"When passing the Massachusetts FY2008 State Budget, the state transferred $500 million from the Health Care Security Trust to make up the difference on the disputed figure for the budget deficit. Moreover, the state made the fiscally irresponsible decision to not make any interest payments and a $100 million contribution to this fund."

Source: "House lawmakers toss Patrick's plans", By Hillary Chabot, Transcript Statehouse Bureau, The North Adams Transcript, Thursday, April 12, 2007.

You, Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!, will find the cited news article on my Blog page explaining the Orwellian North Adams State Representative Dan Bosley:

www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/10/daniel-e-bosley-hypocritical-big.html

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You, Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!, wrote (below) today: "The connector is still negotiating with the four providers of Commonwealth Care over the overall cost of the insurance."

Well, Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!, you omit who the 5 Massachusetts insurers offering healthcare insurance are. Let me remind you:

5 Massachusetts insurers control about 90 percent of the healthcare insurance market in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

#1 - Blue Cross Blue Shield
#2 - Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
#3 - Fallon Community Health Plan
#4 - Health New England
#5 - Tufts Health Plan

Source: "200,000 may need to get more insurance: State healthcare law sets higher minimums" (By Alice Dembner, [The Boston]Globe Staff, January 30, 2007).

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Moreover, Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!, you fail to mention how the state is subsidizing healthcare insurance to its working poor residents. Well, let me remind you:

"The state's plan relies largely on two sources: federal funds that are committed only through June 30, 2008, and the state's free-care pool, now used to pay for charity care at hospitals and health centers."

Source: "MANDATORY HEALTH INSURANCE | THE FIRST YEAR: Progress and perils - Thousands more in state have coverage under ambitious program, but challenges lie ahead over funding and getting message out to all" (By Alice Dembner, (Boston) Globe Staff, April 22, 2007).

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In conclusion, what does this all mean? Well, it means that (a) during last year's budget season, the state used $600 Million (nominal, not actual) out of its Health Care Security Trust fiscal account to cover most of its FY2008 budget deficit instead of spending the federal dollars on "Healthcare Reform"; (b) 5 corporate elite, wealthy Massachusetts Insurance Companies are receiving the Federal Dollars the state receives for "Healthcare Reform" instead of the uninsured or underinsured; (c) "Healthcare Reform" relies on 2 main funding sources which exclude the state government spending one cent on their own policy; (d) Hospitals are now losing money to the 5 corporate elite, wealthy Massachusetts Insurance companies under "healthcare reform"; (e) and now the recipients of "healthcare reform" may be asked to pay increased premiums & fees a regressive revenue fee system in order to subsidize a program the state is asking the federal government to subsidize while the state uses nominal surplus funds to cover its recurring yearly budget deficits. "Healthcare Reform" in Massachusetts is a SCAM that transfers federal taxpayer dollars to the state's corporate elite, wealthy 5 insurance companies offering "subsidized" healthcare insurance and to the state to cover its recurring yearly budget deficits.

Lastly, I ask you, Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!, to please publish my email letter to you today. Please let the power and light of truth shine once more for the people the state government is supposed to be serving. Please publish this letter!

In Dissent!
Jonathan A. Melle
~Former lifelong resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts~

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A Boston GLOBE EDITORIAL:
"A fair share for healthcare"
February 27, 2008

THE AUTHORITY overseeing the state's new universal healthcare law is about to raise its rates on people who are living on limited incomes. This insurance is subsidized by the state, and the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority wants to make sure that co-pays and monthly premiums are high enough to discourage people from switching from private insurance. These costs should not be so high, however, that they are a burden for people with chronic conditions or discourage them from getting necessary care. When the connector board meets to set the rates tomorrow, actuarial prudence needs to be leavened by compassion.

Anyone in Commonwealth Care would face higher co-pays: $5 more for a prescription and $5 more for a visit to a primary care provider. That may not sound like much, but it adds up to a major burden for people with multiple ailments and several prescriptions, especially when it applies to those earning just above the federal poverty line - $10,400 a year for a single person.

And the monthly premium rates would go up for people from 150 percent to 300 percent of the poverty limit. Again, it might be just a few dollars a month, but when combined with increases in the cost of food and fuel, the total healthcare increase would strain the budgets of the very people that Commonwealth Care is designed to help.

Those premiums need to be high enough that people who can afford private insurance do not try to save money by flocking to the subsidized policies. Figures from the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy show that the number of employers offering coverage was holding steady at a little more than 70 percent in 2007, the first full year of the Health Reform Law. No one knows what will happen this year, when uncertainty hangs over the economy, but there is as yet no compelling case for the connector to shift so much cost onto the insured.

The connector is still negotiating with the four providers of Commonwealth Care over the overall cost of the insurance. Rates will be going up, as they nearly always do. Yet one exception to this rule is the $295-per-worker penalty leveled on companies employing more than nine workers that do not offer insurance. The law mandates that the state reassess this figure every year to reflect the cost of living and usage of the free-care pool for the uninsured. Under the law, the penalty can go down, but it can never exceed $295.

The connector alone can't change that $295, but the Legislature ought to revisit the fee, at least to index it to the rate of healthcare inflation. The goal of the Health Reform Law - to cover nearly everyone in the state - is a shared responsibility that requires continual reassessment. If people on limited incomes must pay more, why not employers

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"Health care meeting canceled after insurance bids come in high"
The Associated Press (via Berkshire Eagle Online)
Thursday, February 28, 2008

BOSTON (AP) — New bids from four insurers who provide subsidized insurance under the state's universal health care law have come in far higher than expected.
Chairwoman Leslie Kirwan has canceled today's meeting of the Connector Board and instead is considering a public statement discussing the unanticipated cost growth and her hope the insurers can cut their proposed rate increases.

The insurers — Fallon Community Health Plan, BMC HealthNet Plan, Neighborhood Health Plan and Network Health — service the Commonwealth Care program. It provides subsidized health care to people earning up to three times the federal poverty level.

Last month, the board proposed raising co-payments on the 169,000 people covered by the program. The concern is the suggested rate increases won't be enough if coverage is more expensive than expected.

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"Who pays for health plan?"
The Boston Globe - Letters, Sunday, March 2, 2008

YOUR FEB. 27 editorial "A fair share for healthcare" calls on the Connector to leaven actuarial prudence with compassion. I'd be happy to settle for actuarial prudence. Controlling costs by pricing people out is not actuarially sound. As the Globe notes, even the smallest price increases can create insuperable barriers to accessing preventive, acute, and chronic care. They may produce short-term savings. But in the long term, this population would likely be sicker and require more, and more costly, care.

One only has to look at the growing numbers of large, self-insuring employers such as EMC and Pitney Bowes to see what works. They are eliminating barriers to needed care, and investing in the wellness of their workers, because it saves them money and slows the growth of their healthcare spending. It's good for their workers' health and for their bottom line. The Connector should be at least as actuarially prudent with taxpayers' money as EMC is with shareholders' investments.

BARBARA WATERS ROOP
Dr. JOHN D. GOODSON
Cochairpeople
Health Care for Massachusetts
Cambridge

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CERTAINLY THE Globe offers some credible commentary for controlling shared healthcare costs under Commonwealth Care ("A fair share for healthcare"). However, there are some figures missing in your analysis.

I run a small construction company with fewer than nine employees, but have offered health insurance for years, paying 50 percent of the premiums. As of April 1, these premiums will increase by 30 percent (thank you, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts). Combined with workers' compensation and liability insurance, a system that the Commonwealth does not monitor effectively, the cost of doing business has become staggering.

Our new quoted monthly rates are $699.71 (individual) and $1,835.34 (family). At these rates, it's difficult to perceive how the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority will be able to assure that, in your words, "monthly premiums are high enough to discourage people from switching from private insurance" while keeping healthcare costs within the reach of all citizens.

FRANK SARGENT
Carlisle

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DR. JOSEPH DORSEY and Dr. Donald Berwick's admiration of the kind of capitated managed care provided by salaried physicians in the former Harvard Community Health Plan is justified ("Dirty words in healthcare," Op-ed, Feb. 27). So is their suggestion that this kind of care might be just what our country needs.

But they did not mention two other critical features of HCHP, namely that it was not-for-profit, and that physicians, not business people, managed the medical care and allocation of medical resources.

So long as we allow our healthcare system to function as a market-driven, profit-making industry, influenced by investor-owned businesses and by physicians who have invested in the goods and services they use and prescribe, institutions like the old Harvard Community Health Plan are not likely to survive. What Dorsey and Berwick's argument really calls for is some kind of capitated single-payer system, supporting a reorganized not-for-profit healthcare delivery system.

Dr. ARNOLD S. RELMAN
Boston
The writer is former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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I AGREE with Dorsey and Berwick that capitation is the best way to pay providers of healthcare. However, their accusation that insurance companies "hijacked" managed healthcare is unfair. The detested interference by those companies in medical decision-making was in response to the failure of provider organizations to prevent the unnecessary use of expensive services. Or, to put it in fewer words, in the failure of providers to manage care. Like Dorsey and Berwick, I think capitation ought to be tried again. But it will succeed only if providers are able and willing to be effective managers of care.

RICHARD WITTRUP
Scituate

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CRITICAL OF the "minimal" penalties to be levied against employers who opt out of Commonwealth Care, David Schreiber urges the state to raise the sanctions against employers who do not (or perhaps cannot) provide coverage for their workers ("Hit up relatively untapped source in health reform," Letters, Feb. 25). He tells the Connector Authority to go "where the money is." May I suggest that employers and employees alike, in businesses large and small, are tired of taking the hit for costly health insurance. The Connector knows very well where the money is, and why costs are rising. The Massachusetts plan protects the profit stream of private insurers. Only a national taxpayer-funded single payer plan would distribute cost and risk equitably. No mandates, no penalties, no complicated "connectors."

HARRIETTE SEILER
Louisville, Ky.

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"Health care question can't go on ballot without legislative OK"
The Berkshire Eagle Online, The Associated Press
Monday, March 10, 2008

BOSTON (AP) — The state's highest court won't force the secretary of state to put a proposed health care question on the ballot despite the Legislature's failure to vote on the measure.

The proposed constitutional amendment would guarantee comprehensive and affordable health coverage for all residents.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the measure on an initial vote in 2004, but let it die without taking a needed second vote.

Supporters asked the state Supreme Judicial Court to put the question on the ballot anyway.

The court said that while the constitution required the second vote, it has no way of forcing lawmakers to act.

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(A Boston) GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Who said it would be easy?"
April 8, 2008

IT MIGHT have made more sense economically if a lower-cost state - say, Utah or Minnesota - had initiated the health insurance expansion that became law in Massachusetts two years ago this week. But the political and economic leadership here had the will and the resources to try what no state, except Hawaii, had ever come close to achieving: health coverage for just about everyone. While the success of this initiative is not assured, Massachusetts should be proud of accomplishing so much, so quickly.

As of Jan. 1, 342,000 people had enrolled in insurance plans fostered by the new law, an impressive achievement. Two-thirds of that number are in Commonwealth Care, which provides subsidized coverage to those just above the poverty line.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, healthcare costs much more in Massachusetts than elsewhere: $6,683 per person in 2004, compared with Utah's $3,972, and Minnesota's more typical $5,795. Yet in the short term, this cost disparity meant Massachusetts had more money in the system to expand coverage - notably from a Medicaid waiver by the federal government, which comes up for renewal on July 1.

Support for the Massachusetts initiative has been a major achievement of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Secretary Michael Leavitt, who has the final say, ought to approve an extension.

Even with a renewal, unforeseen costs will become a burden. More people have signed up for Commonwealth Care than anticipated and rates are going up 9.4 percent July 1. Governor Patrick budgeted $869 million for the initiative in the fiscal year that begins July 1, but his administration now believes that figure is low by $100 million.

If only this were Utah, where the healthy Mormon lifestyle keeps costs down, or Minnesota, which is not so dominated by expensive teaching hospitals and specialists. But Massachusetts has one great advantage over other states - the coalition of groups that put the healthcare package together two years ago. This includes businesses, health insurers, hospitals, unions, healthcare advocates, and political leaders. They now need to figure out ways to control costs, maintain quality, and get new money into the system when absolutely necessary.

A generation ago, Hawaii was praised for requiring employers to provide health insurance to all workers. Companies found loopholes, however, and as of 2006, its uninsurance rate was 10 percent, a little less than Massachusetts's 11 percent.

The Massachusetts initiative will fray more quickly unless the coalition reenergizes itself.

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A Boston GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Health reform is working"
June 4, 2008

THE 350 PEOPLE who packed into the main conference room of the John F. Kennedy Library yesterday were in a good mood. They were about to hear a report that implementation of the Massachusetts health reform law had, in less than two years, cut the number of uninsured people of working age nearly in half. Then they got the bad news from House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, one of the progenitors of the law: "The third year . . . will be the most difficult."

The law has resulted in health insurance coverage for 355,000 people, but it is costing more than expected, and it was mainly funded by two uncertain revenue sources: money that would otherwise go to hospitals to treat the uninsured, and a special waiver of federal Medicaid rules. The waiver, which freed up money to expand insurance coverage, expires in less than a month. A renewal seems likely, but it's unclear how much money the state will receive.

And the law hasn't done anything to alter treatment patterns that have burdened Massachusetts with some of the nation's highest medical costs. "We must contain costs," said Senate President Therese Murray. "We must stay together and be fully committed to the second phase of healthcare reform."

A far-reaching cost containment bill supported by Murray has cleared the Senate and is awaiting House action, which DiMasi promised is coming soon. Among other things, the bill calls for more transparency by insurance companies, a statewide system of electronic health records, better recruitment of primary-care doctors, and a ban on gifts from drug companies to physicians.

This last item has provoked opposition from the catering industry. Drug companies would no longer be able to roll out free lunches to attract physicians to informational meetings. But a doctor's prescription patterns should not be swayed, even a little bit, by food or other gifts. Murray's proposal should become law.

A ban on free lunches is nothing compared to the other changes that will be required to make health reform work. Hospitals will need to make sure that expensive procedures actually produce results. Insurers will need to devise payment systems that reward quality, not just quantity of care. Patients will need to be more cost-conscious, especially about unnecessary visits to emergency rooms.

In 2004, when the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation convened the first meetings to solve the unemployment problem in Massachusetts, few would have thought the state could have advanced so far, so fast. The task is still daunting, but the commitment remains strong.

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(A Boston) GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Keep health reform moving"
June 19, 2008

IN JULY 2006, US Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt praised the Massachusetts health insurance plan as a national model. He was in Boston then to announce the extension of the special Medicaid funding that enabled Massachusetts to expand coverage to nearly everyone. Leavitt needs to quickly extend this money, which is available through a waiver of Medicare rules, so that the state's landmark initiative can continue.

Governor Patrick is meeting with Leavitt tomorrow to discuss renewal of the waiver, which expires June 30. Patrick might recall the words of his predecessor, Republican Mitt Romney, who told Leavitt in 2006: "Massachusetts is now at the forefront of a revolution in the way we think about healthcare." He added, "The reforms we crafted bring coverage to all our citizens."

Romney was indulging in a bit of hyperbole. The state hasn't managed to cover everybody, but a study by the Washington-based Urban Institute found that 93 percent of the working population had health insurance as of last fall. Sharon Long, researcher on the study, figures that if children and the elderly are included, the total insured population in Massachusetts exceeded 95 percent, an extraordinary figure given that the national rate was about 84 percent in 2006, the year with the latest Census figures.

"None of us should expect perfection here," Leavitt said in 2006. "Mistakes are going to be made."

The Legislature has provided an adequate share of money. The new healthcare connector authority has created subsidized coverage for those just above the poverty line. Private companies have written policies for these people, and for those who can afford unsubsidized insurance. The experiment has gone well, with one exception: The state underestimated the number of people who would enroll in subsidized plans.

It's unclear how much money is involved in the waiver renewal negotiations, but the amount is sure to exceed the $625 million annual federal contribution under the current plan. The governor and Legislature are ready to provide money to accommodate extra enrollment, but they need help.

Many people contributed to the passage of the healthcare law in 2006, notably Romney, Leavitt, and his predecessor Tommy Thompson - all Republicans - along with Senator Edward M. Kennedy and the Democratic legislative leadership. Leavitt said then that "every component of our society" needs to contribute to providing access to affordable, basic healthcare. Massachusetts has shown it can be done. The Bush administration, led by Leavitt, needs to help maintain progress toward this bipartisan goal.

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The Boston Globe, Saturday, June 21, 2008, Page B2, City & Region

“Patrick reaches deal on Medicaid waiver”

Governor Deval Patrick has reached a deal with the Bush administration to give Massachusetts a 2-to-4-week extension of a critical Medicaid waiver. An official familiar with a meeting between Patrick and Health & Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said they reached an agreement yesterday, Friday, June 20, 2008. The extra time will let the parties negotiate a further extension to a $400 million Medicaid waiver that has powered the state’s universal healthcare program. Senator Edward M. Kennedy called Leavitt on Thursday, June 19, 2008, to push for the extension. (AP)

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"Business balking at health changes: Many firms and insurers oppose $100m price tag; Public backs Patrick idea to close gap in funding"
By Kay Lazar, (Boston) Globe Staff, July 15, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick's proposal to ask businesses, insurers, and hospitals to kick in about $100 million to close a gap in funding for the state's landmark health insurance law is threatening to fracture the fragile coalition whose support was instrumental in passing the measure.

Business and insurance industry leaders are opposed to Patrick's plan, saying it is unfair to ask them to pay more, especially during an economic downturn. But consumer groups praised the proposal, saying patients were asked to pay more when copayments and deductibles for subsidized health plans were increased earlier this year. Now, they say, it is time for others to step up and pay their share.

Meanwhile, a new poll indicated there is broad public support for asking businesses and insurers to pay more to keep afloat the state's health insurance law, which seeks to cover almost all residents.

But a lobbyist with the state's largest business group said Patrick's proposal is likely to undermine key support for the two-year-old law, which passed only after more than a year of sensitive negotiations and compromises involving hospitals, insurers, employers, and con sumer groups.

"It was a real delicate balance that was achieved two years ago to bring everybody on board," said Rick Lord, president and chief executive of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, an association of business groups with 7,000 members.

"This jeopardizes the support of the business community, and that's one of the reasons reform has been so successful so far," he said. "Any reform that has been tried anywhere else - when the business community opposed it, reform has not been successful."

The law requires most employers to offer health coverage or to pay an annual penalty of $295 per worker. But a crucial compromise was struck to win the business community's support: companies would be in compliance even if a minority of their workers were covered. Employers with more than 10 workers had the option of paying at least 33 percent of workers' premiums within their first 90 days of employment or having at least 25 percent of their workers covered by an employer plan.

Patrick's proposal would raise $33 million in additional penalties by requiring employers to meet both requirements.

Lord said the proposal would hit retailers especially hard, because many of them face such high turnover that they do not typically offer health insurance to full-timers until after 90 days.

The governor announced the plan Sunday as part of a supplemental budget request, which must be voted on by the Legislature. In a letter to legislators, Patrick described the proposal as modest and as "companion contributions to those already made by consumers." House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi promised yesterday there will be a "full examination" of the proposal.

Patrick's plan would raise another $33 million from an assessment on insurance companies' reserve accounts. But Dr. Marylou Buyse, president and chief executive of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, said that the money is needed by the companies to cover catastrophic health costs in the event of a flu pandemic or a terrorist attack.

"This is taxing healthcare to pay for healthcare and is not solving the basic problem, which is healthcare costs too much," said Buyse, whose group represents most of the state's health insurers.

The state's largest private health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, hasn't taken any position on the proposal. A spokesman said the governor needs to release more details before the company could assess the full impact.

The state's hospitals are supporting the request for more money - $28 million from hospitals - with a caveat. Hospitals are willing to pay more to make near-universal healthcare work, said Lynn Nicholas, chief executive of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, but she tied the organization's support to the defeat of an unrelated measure pending in the Senate. That bill would set minimum nurse staffing requirements and require hospitals to hire more nurses.

The cost of Patrick's plan "pales in comparison to the prospect of having government-mandated nurse staffing ratios, which could cost in excess of $200 million a year," Nicholas said.

Most of the extra money from hospitals would go to a pool that covers hospital costs of residents who remain uninsured. Currently, the hospitals contribute $160 million to that fund.

Consumer groups are enthusiastically supporting Patrick's plan. "Consumers have already stepped up to the plate," said the Rev. Hurmon Hamilton, president of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, a consortium of religious and civic groups. "I would strongly urge the business community, insurance, and hospitals . . . to come forth and do their part."

Patrick also wants to plug the funding gap by shifting $35 million from the Medical Security Trust Fund, which is used to pay health insurance for the unemployed. Consumer groups were skeptical of that part of his plan.

"Unemployment is going up as the economy worsens, and we want to make sure there is enough money left to pay unemployment to people who are entitled to the money," said Brian Rosman, research director for Health Care for All.

Asking businesses and insurers to pay more toward healthcare is popular. A poll being released today by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation found that nearly three-quarters of those surveyed supported requiring businesses with more than 10 employees to pay more toward the system. And 61 percent said they favored requiring insurers to contribute more to a fund that would subsidize coverage. The poll of 1,015 Massachusetts adults was conducted June 10 to 23.
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Kay Lazar can be reached at klazar@globe.com. Globe writer Eric Moskowitz contributed to this report.
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A Boston GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Patrick makes a tough choice"
July 15, 2008

THE GOOD news is that enrollment in the state's new subsidized health insurance program has greatly exceeded projections. The bad news is that this has raised the first-year cost of Commonwealth Care from an expected $472 million to $630 million. To fill the gap, the Patrick administration has devised a plan that spreads the pain relatively equally among health reform's major stakeholders, from providers to employers to insurers and the state itself.

The most important stakeholders - the individuals and families who have signed up for the state's pioneering effort at universal coverage - have already done their bit. In April, their premiums rose 10 percent and their co-payments also increased. The Legislature should approve the governor's proposal or come up with a better one before it adjourns at the end of this month.

Under the governor's plan, an employer would have to pay an annual assessment of $295 per uninsured worker unless it offers a health plan enrolling at least 25 percent of its workers and pays at least 33 percent of its employees' health premiums. Until now, employers have been able to avoid the assessment if they met either criterion. The state calculates this change would hike employer assessments by $33 million. Insurers would face a one-time assessment of $33 million, and providers would have to kick in $28 million. The state would draw up to $35 million from a surplus in a fund for health insurance for the unemployed.

If lawmakers do not act, the alternatives are sobering. The state could reduce spending for other programs or further increase charges to subscribers, putting coverage beyond the reach of some. Or it could cut off enrollment in Commonwealth Care. But this would not only leave consumers without access to affordable coverage, it would also probably make it impossible for the state to enforce the mandate on individuals to get insurance. Thanks to Commonwealth Care, the mandate, and other elements of the state's reform plan, a recent survey found that the percentage of uninsured in the state had fallen from 13 percent in the fall of 2006 to 7 percent last fall.

A poll released today by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation found strong public support for health reform and a 66 percent majority against capping enrollment in Commonwealth Care to limit its costs. To keep that backing, legislators should quickly find a way to pay for Commonwealth Care's success without gutting other state programs or putting an undue burden on the newly insured. The Patrick plan to achieve this is a good start.

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"Health plan's rising cost"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The state's innovative health care program met its first financial crisis in April and weathered it by raising premiums and co-payments for participants. Now the wolf is at the door again, and it is the business community that Governor Patrick wants to dig deep to help close a $100 million funding gap. In a sense the program is a victim of its own success, but it is more clearly the victim of flaws in our health care system that its architects failed to or couldn't steer clear of.

The admirable goal of the state-subsidized Commonwealth Care program is to provide insurance for everyone in the state, and it has done an impressive job of lowering the uninsured rate in Massachusetts to just 7 percent. Families at or below the poverty level are now getting health care. Predictably, however, costs have increased, and at an estimated $630 million, the program's first-year costs are now about $150 million higher than planned.

The governor wants to raise $33 million by subjecting businesses that don't meet requirements for insuring employees to penalties they were not subjected to when business leaders originally signed off on the plan. The state's hospitals will agree to pay an additional $28 million as requested but only if Beacon Hill agrees to abandon an unrelated bill requiring minimum nursing requirements. Blue Cross Blue Shield is pondering the governor's proposal that insurers pitch in more money. The governor wants to shift $35 million from health insurance for the unemployed, a risky idea in this dismal economic climate.

It's unfortunate that Commonwealth Care funding pits consumers and businesses and hospitals against one another when they are all in the same bind. But because the plan doesn't address the insurance companies at the center of our broken health system, that was the unfortunate and inevitable result.

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(A Boston) GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Find the money soon"
July 24, 2008

TO NO ONE’S surprise, employers are responding with Bronx cheers to Governor Patrick’s plan to get more fees from them for the state’s subsidized health insurance program. The state’s bid for increased assessments from businesses, insurers, and healthcare providers comes just as the economy shows signs of weakening.

In the spirit of keeping together these groups and others that have collaborated on the state’s pioneering attempt at universal coverage, the governor’s team should consider any reasonable alternatives to the new assessments. However, one that has been prominently mentioned — shifting more Medicaid members to managed care plans — seems unlikely to produce the immediate savings needed.

At the heart of the problem is the state’s estimate that subsidized Commonwealth Care coverage and Medicaid will cost the state at least $120 million more than projected. To close the gap, the governor wants to collect an additional $33 million from insurers, $28 million from providers, and $33 million from employers who do not have health plans enrolling at least 25 percent of their workers and who do not pay at least 33 percent of workers’ premiums. The state itself would provide up to $35 million from a fund for insurance for the unemployed. Commonwealth Care’s members already began paying higher premiums and co-payments this spring.

As an alternative to new fees, a coalition of businesses and insurers thinks the state could save $160 million by enrolling all 1.1 million Medicaid members in managed care plans. Currently, 400,000 are in such plans. According to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, managed care plans have historically served the healthiest Medicaid recipients but ‘‘have not yet demonstrated the capacity to serve large numbers of disabled members.’’ The state is starting to bring in new plans with more expertise in serving members with complicated care requirements. But changes in this direction will have to be measured to work well and probably won’t produce much savings in the short term.

The debate over closing the Commonwealth Care gap will inevitably have echoes in Washington, where the state and the Bush administration are negotiating over a Medicaid waiver with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. The state’s bargaining position will be stronger if it can demonstrate that all stakeholders in health reform — insurers, providers, consumers, and employers — are doing their part to make reform work. That means, on the state’s side, considering all cost-saving proposals. But it also means that, in the end, everyone else might have to pony up more money.

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(A Boston) GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Checks on the state's to-do list"
August 6, 2008

VOTERS ARE said to like divided government, with one party heading the executive branch while another controls the Legislature. This is supposed to provide checks and balances, but just as often it can result in gridlock. The session just completed shows that much can be accomplished when the two branches work together - provided everyone agrees to share the credit.

Deval Patrick was the first Democrat elected governor in 16 years, but the Democratic Legislature did not march in lockstep behind all his policy proposals. The defeat of casino gambling and criminal justice reform, stalled property tax relief, and $122 million in budget vetoes are proof of that.

Rather, Patrick, legislative leaders, and especially their staffs did the unsexy policy work needed to cobble together strategies for the big issues facing states today. The result: A $1 billion life sciences initiative; a sweeping energy bill with a focus on conservation and renewables; a $3 billion bond to accelerate repairs on deteriorating roads and bridges; $500 million in new revenues; an intact health reform law with 340,000 new patients enrolled in insurance plans. "Green" causes fared particularly well, with the biggest environmental bond bill ever, and commitments to carbon reduction and open-space preservation.

Personality clashes sometimes substituted for ideological differences, however. The governor got off to a rocky start with the House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray, themselves fairly new to the job. But in an interview yesterday Patrick said, "we play the long game." Over time, the three focused on getting to yes.

Some in the business community have complained of rising costs in these initiatives, pointing to tax loophole closings, new environmental regulations, and increased contributions to the healthcare law. But Patrick was scrupulous about seating business representatives at the table while the big changes were hammered out, to the benefit of corporate interests. For example, the tax loophole closings and cigarette tax hike were partly offset by an overall reduction in the corporate tax rate.

Plus, as the state GOP likes to boast, taxes were cut more than 40 times by four successive Republican administrations. Given plunging revenues and the press of healthcare and other needs, the fairly modest tax hikes are more a course correction than a radical shift.

Former Governor Weld, who started the 16-year run of Republicans in the corner office, liked to say that government should "steer, not row." But this past session suggests what is possible when most oars are pulling in the same direction.

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"Fourth delay in care plan sought: US balks at hike proposed in yearly Medicaid funding"
By Kay Lazar, (Boston) Globe Staff, August 9, 2008

Federal regulators are balking at the state's proposal to increase Medicaid spending by up to $1 billion a year over the next three years, and this and other sticking points prompted Massachusetts yesterday to request another two-week extension of its healthcare funding package.

The federal payments, which are crucial for keeping the state's landmark health insurance law afloat, were set to expire June 30, but the state has received three extensions, and a fourth would postpone the deadline for reaching an agreement until Aug. 25.

At stake in the negotiations between state and federal officials is more than $11 billion in federal funds over three years, money earmarked for dozens of healthcare programs in Massachusetts in addition to the state's crown jewel: its two-year-old near-universal health coverage law that has provided insurance to more than 350,000 residents.

Medicaid is a state and federally funded program that provides healthcare assistance to low income people. Over the past decade, Massachusetts has been granted waivers from Medicaid rules to expand assistance to residents who wouldn't otherwise be eligible for coverage.

Federal rules require that the expanded coverage not cost more than would have been spent without the waivers, and the figure itself is one area of disagreement, according to a key legislator and other people familiar with the talks.

"If we don't get everything we are looking for in the waiver, we would either have to come up with the money through [state] reserves, or we would have to cut benefits," said Senator Steven Panagiotakos, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Panagiotakos, who has been regularly briefed by the administration of Governor Deval Patrick, declined to discuss specifics but said state negotiators seemed cautiously optimistic about the progress of the discussions. But he said that the two sides are still in disagreement over funding for several key programs in the massive spending blueprint, and that if Massachusetts did not get what it requested for any one of those programs, it could have a large impact on the state budget.

Several others familiar with the talks said that the state is pushing for higher spending because it expects at least 50,000 more residents to sign up in the next year for Commonwealth Care, a subsidized health insurance program for lower-income residents ineligible for Medicaid.

The higher-than anticipated enrollment in Commonwealth Care has stretched state funds, and the dispute with federal regulators comes at a time when Massachusetts has little wiggle room, with a tight budget and declining revenues.

Yet the state's Medicaid proposal for the next three years shows a growth in spending each year that is roughly double what it had been in years past.

Another critical point of disagreement between state and federal negotiators, people familiar with the talks say, is the way Massachusetts has counted the number of children enrolled in MassHealth, the name of the Massachusetts Medicaid program. They said federal regulators believe the state has, for years, incorrectly listed many children under MassHealth when they should have been counted under a program called the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which is not funded by Medicaid.

The difference made it appear that Massachusetts had a much larger number of children in MassHealth, and that made the state eligible for more federal reimbursement in its Medicaid program.

The Patrick administration has declined to discuss details of the sensitive negotiations. But late Wednesday, a federal government spokeswoman released a statement that indicated the talks were nearing completion.

"The US Department of Health and Human Services has extended an offer to the State that is faithful to the intent of the original . . . Medicaid [waiver]," said the written statement from Christina Pearson, agency spokeswoman.

"The offer continues HHS' commitment to the shared principles of health care reform under the (Medicaid waiver) program and maintains its support for the Commonwealth as the State continues to be an innovator in this endeavor," the statement continued.

But Patrick administration officials denied that any offer had been extended. Shortly after that, Pearson backed off the statement that an offer had been extended.

"There is not a formal offer on the table," Pearson said in an e-mail on Thursday. "What we did provide recently was more feedback, specifics, and ideas on how to proceed. Since it is an ongoing dialogue, we will not have further comment on our discussions."
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Kay Lazar can be reached at klazar@globe.com.
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www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/08/09/fourth_delay_in_care_plan_sought/
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(A Boston) GLOBE EDITORIAL
"The trauma of high costs"
August 22, 2008

ON THE same day that Moody's rating agency declared that runaway medical costs are making the Massachusetts universal health plan unsustainable, Tufts Medical Center in Boston announced a plan to become a state-designated trauma center. The money needed for this upgrade would add to the costs that patients and employers must bear when they use Tufts services. If Boston were lacking in trauma centers, the investment would make sense, but the city already has four: Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women's, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Massachusetts General. It needs another trauma center like it needs another sports bar.

Trauma centers treat the victims of gunshots, stabbings, car collisions, and falls. They must have the staff and facilities to do, at short notice, complex surgeries, including neurosurgery, with access to quick imaging and laboratory results. Once a hospital's trauma facilities win the approval of the American College of Surgeons, the hospital can apply for designation by the state Department of Public Health. With designation by the state, a center is more likely to get trauma victims brought by ambulances.

Unfortunately, under current rules, trauma centers are not subject to the state's "determination of need" process, so the state cannot reject the application on the grounds that Boston already has more than enough trauma capacity. The state should change the rules to include oversight of the centers.

If Tufts were in Western Massachusetts, where trauma centers are few and far apart, its proposal might make sense. But in Boston, no one needing trauma care lives more than a few miles from a center.

Tufts Medical Center's chief executive, Ellen Zane, argues that while the Longwood medical area has two adult and one pediatric trauma center, even though it has relatively few residents, the Chinatown neighborhood of her center is densely populated and has none. But traumatic injuries don't always occur near home, and most state residents would be happy to be as close to quality trauma centers as Chinatown is. Zane also argues that because Tufts already has a pediatric trauma center, creating an adult one will require little additional expense.

Massachusetts is trying to achieve universal healthcare despite having the highest per-capita health expenditures in the nation. The state's outstanding teaching hospitals, including Tufts Medical Center, are one factor raising health costs here. The gloomy prediction from Moody's that universal care is unaffordable could prove true if all involved in healthcare do not strive to keep outlays down. Four trauma centers in Boston are plenty.

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(A Boston) GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Keep this experiment going"
September 5, 2008

BECAUSE of the state's bold experiment in broadening health coverage, Massachusetts now has the highest rate of insured residents in the country - 94.6 percent, according to recent census data. But the cost of progress has risen, as more and more of the uninsured sign up for the state's subsidized Commonwealth Care plan. Once estimated at $472 million in its first year, the bill came in at $630 million.

Even so, Massachusetts must keep this experiment going. Today, a state agency will hold a hearing on a sensible proposal by the Patrick administration to close the gap - it wants to collect from more businesses that are not doing a good job of providing insurance for their employees.

Under the plan's original design, a firm with 11 employees or more would have to pay the state a modest $295 a year for each uninsured worker if the company does not insure 25 percent of its full-time employees or provide 33 percent of its workers' premiums. The Patrick administration wants to change that so that companies can escape the $295 fee only if they insure 25 percent of their workforce and provide 33 percent of premiums.

With this tougher standard, it is estimated that revenue from the penalty fee will jump from $7.4 million this year to more than $40 million.

Employers are not the only stakeholders in the healthcare reform plan who will have to give more than first expected under the administration's adjustments. In April, those insured by Commonwealth Care had to swallow a 10 percent increase in premiums, and higher copays as well. The Legislature has increased the assessment on hospitals by $20 million, and took $38 million from insurance companies with excess reserves. The state itself is also kicking in $35 million from a health fund for the unemployed that is running a surplus.

All of this will ensure that the state does not have to close off enrollment in Commonwealth Care, a step that would strike at the heart of the landmark Massachusetts law. The plan has broken new ground by mandating that individuals must get insurance in one way or another. Results are so encouraging that it recently won praise even from Mitt Romney, who helped design it when he was governor but has blown hot and cold over it since.

But it would be impossible for the state to mandate insurance if it could not provide subsidized coverage to all who are eligible. Collecting from more businesses that are not doing enough to provide coverage to their workers is a good way to keep the state's promise of universal coverage alive.

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(A Boston) GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Worlds apart on healthcare"
September 21, 2008

ON FEW ISSUES do Barack Obama and John McCain diverge as dramatically as they do on healthcare. Both say they want to reduce costs and expand coverage to the 47 million uninsured. But while Obama wants to build on the existing employer-based system with new coverage plans for families and businesses, McCain aims to move the country away from work-based insurance and toward a system in which all Americans cut their own deals with private insurers.

If the national campaign ever gets past lipstick and the collapse of investment banks, these differences on healthcare may get the attention they deserve.

The Massachusetts model
Obama's plan is like the new Massachusetts universal coverage law with one exception: There is no mandate on individuals to get insurance or pay a penalty. Just as this state did, he would expand government subsidies and programs for the uninsured. His proposed National Health Insurance Exchange looks like Commonwealth Choice, this state's lineup of heavily regulated private insurance plans for people without work-based insurance. In Massachusetts, 94.6 percent of residents now have insurance. Without the mandate, Obama's plan would never come as close to universal coverage, but it would expand coverage.

McCain, on the other hand, would use the tax code to shift insurance from the workplace to the marketplace. Under his plan, employees would start having to pay income tax on the value of the healthcare premiums they receive from their employers, making it a less attractive benefit. At the same time, McCain offers a tax credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families toward the cost of coverage at work or in the private, nongroup market.

The upshot, analysts say, is that many young, healthy workers would reject their employers' taxable insurance benefit and either go without or find a high-deductible, low-premium policy on the private market. This would leave employers with an insured base of older, less healthy workers, which would drive up the cost of their insurance. The likely result is that many companies would drop coverage altogether.

Currently, about 60 percent of all Americans, 180 million people, get health insurance through their own job or that of a family member. A major drawback is that the insurance is not portable when an employee quits, gets laid off, or moves to a new position. But the group rates that employer-based insurance affords have kept its cost manageable. This has been the bulwark of health insurance since World War II.

After a Republican primary campaign in which candidates and debate moderators rarely mentioned healthcare, healthcare specialists are beginning to take notice of the radical base of McCain's plan. David Snow, the CEO of Medco, the largest US manager of drug benefits, told the National Press Club this month that McCain's plan "will create chaos." Robert Laszewski, a Washington-based consultant on benefits, has said that under the McCain plan most companies would stop paying for healthcare in three to four years.

McCain would not lament this. In his vision, the best way to cut costs in the system is to have many private insurers competing for the premiums of individuals by driving hard bargains with hospitals, doctors, and other providers. Critics of the McCain plan, including four health economics experts who discuss it in the current issue of Health Affairs, point out that nongroup coverage carries such high administrative costs that consumers are likely to find themselves paying higher premiums for thinner protection.

Healthcare just for the healthy?
Another danger with the McCain plan is that these nongroup insurers would compete by cherry-picking the healthiest individuals to cover and charging steep premiums to those with preexisting conditions or family histories of diseases. McCain's answer to this is that he would work with the states to expand the existing system of "high-risk pools" for the hard to insure. But these plans charge such high premiums with such limited benefits that in 2006 fewer than 200,000 people had enrolled in them.

Obama hopes to curb the rise in health costs through more preventive care. Getting more people insured will improve prevention, he believes, as will reimbursing doctors for outreach to patients.

The Massachusetts experiment will test whether better access to healthcare does pay off in improved prevention and lower costs. There is no comparable lab test, however, for the radical revision of healthcare that McCain is proposing. For all of his moderate positions on immigration and climate change, on healthcare he has endorsed a right-wing ideologue's vision: destroy employer-based coverage and turn Americans over to the tender mercies of private nongroup insurers in an unregulated environment. It's a prescription for disaster.

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A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Nine wishes for 2009"
January 1, 2009

FEW New Year's Days have been imbued with as much hope as this dawning of 2009. No doubt the fervent finger-crossing is so great because it matches the level of national anxiety, especially about the teetering economy. But today, with a year of possibility stretched out before us like pristine snow, is a time for optimism. So we offer these nine good wishes for 2009, in hopes of a better world - from the Globe's backyard to places far outside the circulation area.

1. We wish strength and wisdom for Barack Obama. The president-elect has an In box overflowing with challenges. We hope he keeps his head while navigating the perilous interest-group politics that his election has not banished from Washington. The immense goodwill greeting this historic presidency needs to be harnessed to propel the nation out of the current desolating recession, with its rippling job losses, housing foreclosures, and credit freezes. States and cities, where services for the neediest are dispensed, are facing extreme budget shortfalls of their own and require a boost from Washington. But Obama and his advisers need to take care, when dispensing the crucial billions in stimulus dollars, not to turn balm into boondoggle. Meanwhile, there needs to be accountability for the banks, Wall Street sharpies, and federal officials who allowed years of economic voodoo in the mortgage and financial markets to bloom into this crisis.

2. We wish for a lively, respectful challenge to Mayor Menino. This fall the mayor is almost certainly going to stand for an unprecedented fifth term as chief executive of our beloved city, and he should not get a free ride. Much as we support the mayor on many initiatives, there is always room for new ideas and fresh thinking. After almost 16 years with Menino in office, progress in Boston is only halting on crime reduction, education, civic engagement, and downtown development. It is time for a serious evaluation. We hope Menino doesn't adopt a Rose Garden strategy and avoid engaging his potential opponents; there should be plenty of debates, especially if the preliminary campaign draws more than one challenger, which we also hope for. In addition, there is a good chance that two or three City Council seats will open up this year, and we hope to see new candidates step up to run - inspired by Obama's example, perhaps - from the city's many communities of color.

3. We hope the temperature keeps turned up on global warming action. The Obama administration may be tempted to put the issue of climate change on the back burner while it copes with the economy. It should not, because the United States must lead if the world is to agree in 2009 on a successor to the expiring Kyoto protocol. If the new president presses the issue, Congress should finally have the votes to put a tax on carbon or create a cap-and-trade system on emissions. And there is a way to keep either measure from burdening the economic recovery: return the revenues from a carbon tax or from the sale of emission allowances to the public in the form of reduced personal taxes or more immediate investments in green technology. Obama's campaign talked about investing $15 billion a year for 10 years on green technologies, an amount dwarfed by the financial bailouts and economic stimulus plans of the past few months. The way to get consumers to choose more sustainable energy alternatives is to make them ubiquitous - and affordable.

4. We hope ethical government makes a comeback. From bucolic towns such as Hamilton to Boston City Hall and Beacon Hill, far too many public officials been found - allegedly - with their hands in the till. Governor Patrick's anti-corruption task force needs to come up with more than obvious quick-fix solutions such as increasing fines for violators. A good start for the next legislative session would be a cold-eyed look at the state and municipal pension systems, which have been tarred by high-profile abuses. And Patrick should more actively champion clean government. It is possible to defend public service as an honorable calling while showing no tolerance for corruption. In fact, the two go hand in hand.

5. The ethical cloud hanging over the Legislature will complicate the intricate dance needed to pass important policy changes. But we hope Beacon Hill finds the will to address the state's transportation crisis. The expected federal stimulus package, large as it is, will not be sufficient to address the $19 billion in deferred maintenance on the state's roads, bridges, and rails, nor all of the $4.7 billion in "shovel-ready" plans on Patrick's own wish list. Especially crucial in hard times is a functioning public transportation system, and the MBTA is a woeful mess. Transportation will be Patrick's priority issue for 2009. It is time for him to lead the Legislature toward sanity and equity in transportation funding by raising the gasoline tax for the first time in 18 years - and by enough to make it count.

6. The planets at last seem to be aligning for significant national progress on universal health insurance. So we hope the state's landmark healthcare law survives the fiscal storm. The recession is cutting state revenues needed to subsidize both the newly insured themselves and the hospitals and community health centers that treat disproportionate numbers of low-income patients. Layoffs will also increase the ranks of those who lose work-based coverage and need the state-subsidized programs. If the state's experiment is to serve as a national model, it must demonstrate that it is not just a fair-weather solution to the nation's healthcare ills. It's good news that Obama understands that healthcare costs are intimately tied to the economic health of American business, and that reforming the system cannot wait until the economy recovers. Universal coverage, properly designed, can do more for the nation's health than all the usual vain New Year's resolutions to stop eating cookies after lunch.

7. We hope for peace in the world. It will take more than a single year for the new president to undo the damage done to America's standing in the world by his predecessor's policies. But since governing is about putting first things first, there are some knots we would like to see undone in 2009. Most urgent is the need for renewed engagement in the Middle East, where a hot war has started in Gaza. The most promising areas may be North Korea's nuclear program and an American-brokered peace between Israel and Syria. At the same time, we would be cheered to see a dialogue opened with Iran, the lowering of tensions between Pakistan and India, and a fresh start for US-Russia relations. That would be a good year for the home team.

8. We hope Greater Boston's public institutions become better neighbors. Lately it seems that hospitals and universities are the only places around that are expanding. Increasingly, these tax-exempt stalwarts are city-builders, reshaping whole neighborhoods - architecturally and culturally - into new institutional zones. While no one doubts the value of education and healthcare, and the substantial employment opportunities that come with their success, we hope local colleges and medical centers will take a closer look at how their master plans line up with their charitable missions. That means Boston College thinks twice about forcing an unwelcome dormitory expansion plan into residential Brighton; Harvard continues close dialogue with community leaders as it builds its life sciences campus in Allston; and the great hospital network operated by Partners HealthCare recognizes the impact its muscular expansion into the suburbs is having on community hospitals.

9. We wish for a re-setting of national values. We don't want to romanticize hard economic times. The recession hurts real people's current lives and strangles their futures. But we are hoping for a corrective balance to the profligacy of the past decade, built on an unsustainable tower of national and personal debt. New Year's is traditionally a time for personal introspection. This year, more than most, it is fitting to redefine needs and wants, to nurture friendships, take solace from the arts or the natural world, and delight in what is right in front of us instead of grasping for what's out of reach. We hope that helps.

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A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
"High stakes in health battle"
January 9, 2009

THE KNOCKDOWN fight between Tufts Medical Center and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts over the reimbursement rate for doctors at the hospital is Exhibit B of the dysfunction of the state's health insurance system. Exhibit A, of course, is the much better rate that Partners HealthCare muscled Blue Cross into granting to its teaching hospitals, Mass. General and Brigham and Women's, in 2000. Two sides of the same coin, these deals cry out for reform.

Doctors who meet quality standards while handling complex cases at academic centers should get uniform reimbursement - not just from private insurers but from Medicaid and Medicare as well. Reformed rates should also better reward primary care.

But comprehensive changes will have to await action by a payment reform commission that the Legislature called for last year. Lamentably, that panel has yet to meet. In the meantime, Tufts said Monday that talks with Blue Cross, the state's largest insurer, had reached a stalemate. Starting Feb. 1, Tufts doctors will no longer take part in the Blue Cross HMO plan.

This is a drastic step for a hospital to take, with an impact on patients. Also, with the recession cutting into employers' and workers' ability to afford insurance of any kind, Tufts's bid for a Blue Cross rate increase well above the rate of inflation could be seen as the last thing the state needs.

But Tufts CEO Ellen Zane makes a good case that her hospital, with rates lower than the two Partners hospitals and Beth Israel Deaconess, treats difficult cases more efficiently than the other three. If Blue Cross's current rates for Tufts, which Tufts says are 32 to 35 percent below rates for Partners, cause doctors to switch - with their patients - to the other hospitals, the overall cost to the system would also rise.

Not all insurers do as Blue Cross does. Zane argues that the state's second-largest insurer, Harvard Pilgrim, reimburses more fairly. Blue Cross pays Tufts below the average for teaching hospitals in Boston, she says, and not enough to cover her costs. Blue Cross denies that.

Blue Cross has said it is willing to pay Tufts more if the hospital would sign its new alternative quality contract, which bases a portion of payment on performance quality and not just fee for service. However, the insurer has not imposed such a condition on the higher rates it pays to doctors at Partners.

Performance-based contracts are still relatively new in this state, and might become more attractive to Tufts - and a major part of a reformed payment system - if they prove themselves in the future. Until then, Tufts deserves a better deal from Blue Cross. And the state deserves a better payment system than the current one - a monument to inequity and inefficiency.

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Photo by Sarah Kaempfe
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Ready to ‘make sacrifices’: Top New York Times and Boston Globe executives continue to rake in multimillion dollar salaries and perks as the company’s share price tanks and the Globe faces a closure threat.
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"Globe execs land millions while seeking major union cutbacks"
On top of the Globe, By Christine McConville, Wednesday, April 8, 2009, www.bostonherald.com - Media & Marketing

Top executives at the New York Times [NYT] Co. and The Boston Globe were awarded stock options potentially worth millions just weeks before they told the Globe’s unions to cut $20 million or face closure, according to regulatory filings.

As Globe workers braced for another round of newsroom cuts in late February, the beleaguered broadsheet’s publisher P. Steven Ainsley, who made $1.9 million in 2008, was awarded options to buy 90,000 shares at $3.625 each. The options vest over three years and would include an additional cash payout in 2012.

Times CEO Janet Robinson and Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. each were awarded 500,000 stock options at $3.625 plus a cash payout equal to 50,000 shares in 2012.

The only way the executives won’t get big payoffs is if Times share prices drop below $3.625 - just off their historic low - and stay there. For example, if the options vested yesterday, when the stock closed at $4.83, Robinson and Sulzberger would get $600,000 from their options and Ainsley’s would be worth $108,000.

The stock option awards come on top of Robinson’s total 2008 compensation of $5.6 million and Sulzberger’s $2.4 million in 2008 pay. The pay includes $38,000 and $35,000 bonuses, respectively, in a year when share prices dropped 60 percent.

“That’s disgusting,” said one Globe staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Times Co. is seeking pay cuts, the elimination of lifetime job guarantees for hundreds of workers and reduced pension and health-care contributions.

In a memo to Globe employees this week, Ainsley said that, to survive, the paper “will need significant concessions from labor.”

Ainsley, who received $247,896 in relocation expenses to move from Tampa, Fla., to a $2.4 million Wellesley manse in 2006, also said in the memo: “It is only fair that management also be prepared to make sacrifices.”

Despite Times Co.’s 60 percent share price drop in 2008, which has continued this year, the company continues to dole out multimillion-dollar executive salaries, bonus awards and perks.

Last year, the company paid former International Herald Tribune Publisher Michael Golden $106,461 to relocate from Paris to Manhattan. That relocation fee is in addition to the $1.6 million that Golden, a member of the family that owns the Times, was paid in 2008.

In his memo to Globe employees, Ainsley said the company, which the Herald learned is raising newsstand rates next month, has “a strategy in motion which will bring in additional revenue from consumers and advertisers.”

Edward Atorino, a media analyst with Benchmark Company, said he’s sure the Times will try all sorts of new concepts.

“I’m sure they are rolling out everything they can,” he said.

But financial analyst Douglas McIntyre, editor of the blog 24/7 Wall Street, scoffed at that.

“If they had these kinds of miracle cures, why are they still having problems?” he asked.

To McIntyre, it sounds like the company is saying “whatever it can, to coax as many concessions as possible out of the unions.”

“Their interest is in getting the union to drop all the provisions in its contracts, because then they can operate the paper at will, which they can’t do now,” he said.

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A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
"A public plan for healthcare"
May 3, 2009

THE SUCCESS of Massachusetts' three-year-old experiment with universal health insurance has made it a focus of attention as Congress and the Obama administration weigh reform on a national scale. But Massachusetts isn't a model for everything. A case in point: the debate over whether national legislation should include a public insurance plan as an option for consumers who don't qualify for Medicare and Medicaid and cannot get coverage through employers.

The architects of reform in Massachusetts opted not to create such a public plan, and opponents of the idea, such as private insurance companies, make much of that decision. Private insurers fear that a public plan would use its bargaining heft to drive down costs and grab a disproportionate share of the market. Advocates of a public plan, such as President Obama, say it is the best way to ensure affordable coverage and to provide a yardstick for the private plans.

So, does the Massachusetts example clinch the case against a public plan? No.

As noted by speakers at a conference recently at Harvard's Kennedy School, this state could avoid a public option because it already had a highly regulated insurance system that ruled out some of the more unsavory features of laissez-faire private insurance. Companies in Massachusetts could not refuse customers because of preexisting conditions or reject policy renewals after health problems emerge. Insurers could charge higher premiums based on a customer's age or place of residence, but not health history.

The state required that insurers cover many treatments and procedures, such as special screening of newborns, beyond the bare-bones policies offered elsewhere. It had a relatively low number of uninsured residents to start with. And, almost alone among the states, Massachusetts had no for-profit firms among its major insurers.

With a national health reform debate looming, some major private insurers have said they could live with a requirement that they accept all patients if it is paired with an individual mandate, like the one in Massachusetts. This would ensure that the young and healthy join the risk pool and lower its overall costs. But the Massachusetts rules would hamstring the private insurers that specialize in excluding anyone with a preexisting condition and providing as little care as possible to everyone else.

As the debate in Washington swirls over creation of a public plan, its supporters should not be cowed into dropping their insistence on it. Massachusetts is getting along without a public plan, but the national health insurance market is vastly different.

------------

A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Mass. bashers take note: Health reform is working"
August 5, 2009

PUNDITS and politicians who oppose universal healthcare for the nation have a new straw man to kick around - the Massachusetts reform plan that covers more than 97 percent of the state’s residents. In the myth that these critics have manufactured, this state’s plan is bleeding taxpayers dry, creating nothing less than a medical Big Dig.

The facts - according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation - are quite different. Its report this spring put the cost to the state taxpayer at about $88 million a year, less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the state budget of $27 billion. Yes, the state recently had to cut benefits for legal immigrants, and safety-net hospital Boston Medical Center has sued for higher state aid. But that is because the recession has cut state revenues, not because universal healthcare is a boondoggle. The main reason costs to the state have been well within expectations? More than half of all the previously uninsured got coverage by buying into their employers’ plans, not by opting for one of the state-subsidized plans.

This should be exciting news for those fiscal conservatives, including both Republicans and “blue dog’’ Democrats, who claim to support the goal of universal coverage while despairing over its budget impact. But that’s not what you hear from the Massachusetts bashers. Trying to scare off the nation from helping the uninsured get coverage, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said recently, “You don’t have to look any further than the universal healthcare mess in Massachusetts to see disaster ahead.’’ New York Times columnist Ross Douthat on Monday accused President Obama of “pushing a health plan that looks a lot like the system currently hemorrhaging money in Massachusetts.’’

The Republican governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, has also gotten his licks in. Costs in Massachusetts, he wrote in the Washington Post Monday, “have been dramatically higher than expected.’’ Pawlenty’s purpose in attacking this state’s plan might be both to discredit a national plan and to score points against former governor Mitt Romney, one of the architects of what Massachusetts has accomplished. Romney, of course, is a possible rival of Pawlenty for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.

Whether out of ignorance or convenience, all three bashers have it wrong. Unlike the Big Dig, health reform came in on time and under budget. It will be proportionately more expensive nationally to provide coverage for the uninsured than it has been here simply because the state began the task with a much lower rate of uninsured, 7 percent, compared with the US rate of 17 percent. But a national plan that relies, as Massachusetts’ does, on both government-subsidized insurance and a mandate on employers to offer insurance or pay a penalty (in Massachusetts’ case, a very small penalty) should be able to cover nearly everyone without busting the budget.

In Massachusetts, cost estimates for the reform plan before its passage in 2006 were so low that Romney and the reform law’s Democratic supporters in the Legislature were able to get away without creating a new tax to fund it. After the costly Wall Street bailout and the $787 billion stimulus package, that option is not open to President Obama and Congress. But Congress should not allow itself to be buffaloed by false claims about Massachusetts into fearing a tsunami of red ink.

There is one other statistic about the Massachusetts plan that politicians, in particular, should appreciate. According to Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Kennedy School of Government, the law’s approval rating in June 2008 was 69 percent. That is a figure officeholders can only dream about.

------------

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About Me

My photo
Amherst, NH, United States
I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at jonathan_a_melle@yahoo.com

50th Anniversary - 2009

50th Anniversary - 2009
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Columbus Avenue in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Pittsfield Politics: Capitanio, Mazzeo agree on budget cuts, public safety

Pittsfield Politics: Capitanio, Mazzeo agree on budget cuts, public safety
Paul Capitanio, left, speaks during Monday night's Ward 3 City Council debate with fellow candidate Melissa Mazzeo at Pittsfield Community Television's studio. The special election (3/31/2009) will be held a week from today (3/24/2009). The local issues ranged from economic development and cleaning up blighted areas in Ward 3 to public education and the continued remediation of PCB's.

Red Sox v Yankees

Red Sox v Yankees
Go Red Sox!

Outrage swells in Congress!

Outrage swells in Congress!
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., left, and the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., listen during a hearing on modernizing insurance regulations, Tuesday, March 17, 2009, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh). - http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090318/pl_politico/30833

Beacon Hill's $pecial Interest Tax Raisers & $PENDERS!

Beacon Hill's $pecial Interest Tax Raisers & $PENDERS!
Photo Gallery: www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/15/St_Patricks_Day_Boston/

The path away from Wall Street ...

The path away from Wall Street ...
...Employers in the finance sector - traditionally a prime landing spot for college seniors, particularly in the Northeast - expect to have 71 percent fewer jobs to offer this year's (2009) graduates.

Economic collapse puts graduates on unforeseen paths: Enrollment in public service jobs rising...

Economic collapse puts graduates on unforeseen paths: Enrollment in public service jobs rising...
www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/14/economic_collapse_puts_graduates_on_unforeseen_paths/

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis
Should he be fired? As Bank of America's Stock Plummets, CEO Resists Some Calls That He Step Down.

Hookers for Jesus

Hookers for Jesus
Annie Lobert is the founder of "Hookers for Jesus" - www.hookersforjesus.net/home.cfm - Saving Sin City: Las Vegas, Nevada?

Forever personalized stamped envelope

Forever personalized stamped envelope
The Forever stamp will continue to cover the price of a first-class letter. The USPS will also introduce Forever personalized, stamped envelopes. The envelopes will be preprinted with a Forever stamp, the sender's name and return address, and an optional personal message.

Purple Heart

Purple Heart
First issued in 2003, the Purple heart stamp will continue to honor the men and women wounded while serving in the US military. The Purple Heart stamp covers the cost of 44 cents for first-class, one-ounce mail.

Dolphin

Dolphin
The bottlenose is just one of the new animals set to appear on the price-change stamps. It will serve as a 64-cent stamp for odd shaped envelopes.

2009 price-change stamps

2009 price-change stamps
www.boston.com/business/gallery/2009pircechangestamps/ -&- www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/02/27/new_stamps_set_for_rate_increase_in_may/

Red Sox v Yankees

Red Sox v Yankees
Go Red Sox!

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
AP photo v Shepard Fairey

Rush Limbaugh lackeys

Rush Limbaugh lackeys
Posted by Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe on March 3, 2009.

Honest Abe

Honest Abe
A 2007 US Penny

Dog race

Dog race
Sledding for dogs

The Capital of the Constitution State

The Capital of the Constitution State
Hartford, once the wealthiest city in the United States but now the poorest in Connecticut, is facing an uphill battle.

Brady, Bundchen married

Brady, Bundchen married
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and model Gisele Bundchen wed Feb. 26, 2009 in a Catholic ceremony in Los Angeles. www.boston.com/ae/celebrity/gallery/tom_gisele/

Mayor Jimmy Ruberto

Mayor Jimmy Ruberto
Tanked Pittsfield's local economy while helping his fellow insider political hacks and business campaign contributors!

Journalist Andrew Manuse

Journalist Andrew Manuse
www.manuse.com

New Hampshire Supreme Court Building

New Hampshire Supreme Court Building
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_Supreme_Court

Economic State of the Union

Economic State of the Union
A look at some of the economic conditions the Obama administration faces and what resources have already been pledged to help. 2/24/2009

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
The president addresses the nation's governors during a dinner in the State Dinning Room, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari).

The Oscars - 2/22/2009.

The Oscars - 2/22/2009.
Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé Knowles teamed up for a musical medley during the show.

The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009

The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009
Hugh Jackman pulled actress Anne Hathaway on stage to accompany him during his opening musical number.

Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow
A Progressive News Commentator

$500,000 per year

$500,000 per year
That is chump change for the corporate elite!

THE CORPORATE ELITE...

THE CORPORATE ELITE...
Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric

The Presidents' Club

The Presidents' Club
Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton & Carter.

5 Presidents: Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, & Carter!

5 Presidents: Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, & Carter!
White House Event: January 7, 2009.

Bank Bailout!

Bank Bailout!
v taxpayer

Actress Elizabeth Banks

Actress Elizabeth Banks
She will present an award to her hometown (Pittsfield) at the Massachusetts State House next month (1/2009). She recently starred in "W" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," and just signed a $1 million annual contract to be a spokesmodel for Paris.

Joanna Lipper

Joanna Lipper
Her award-winning 1999 documentary, "Growing Up Fast," about teenaged mothers in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Happy Holidays...

Happy Holidays...
...from "Star Wars"

Massachusetts "poor" economy

Massachusetts "poor" economy
Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states, but it is also very inequitable. For example, it boasts the nation's most lucrative lottery, which is just a system of regressive taxation so that the corporate elite get to pay less in taxes!

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon
Hollywood Actress

Peter G. Arlos.

Peter G. Arlos.
Arlos is shown in his Pittsfield office in early 2000.

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes
Big Dig - East-west commuters take hit; Fees at tunnels would double. 11/15/2008.

The Pink Panther 2

The Pink Panther 2
Starring Steve Martin

Police ABUSE

Police ABUSE
I was a victim of Manchester Police Officer John Cunningham's ILLEGAL USES of FORCE! John Cunningham was reprimanded by the Chief of Police for disrespecting me. John Cunningham yelled at a witness: "I don't care if he (Jonathan Melle) is disabled!"

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
The 44th US President!

Vote

Vote
Elections

The Bailout & the economic stimulus check

The Bailout & the economic stimulus check
A political cartoon by Dan Wasserman

A rainbow over Boston

A rainbow over Boston
"Rainbows galore" 10/2/2008

Our nation's leaders!

Our nation's leaders!
President Bush with both John McCain & Barack Obama - 9/25/2008.

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).
$5 rise at tunnels is one possibility $1 jump posed for elsewhere.

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My FAVORITE Journalist EVER!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!
John McCain and Barack Obama appeared together at ground zero in New York City - September 11, 2008.

John McCain...

John McCain...
...has all but abandoned the positions on taxes, torture and immigration. (A cartoon by Dan Wasserman. September 2008).

Dan Wasserman

Dan Wasserman
The deregulated chickens come home to roost... in all our pocketbooks. September 2008.

Sarah Palin's phobia

Sarah Palin's phobia
A scripted candidate! (A cartoon by Dan Wasserman).

Dan Wasserman

Dan Wasserman
Family FInances - September, 2008.

Mark E. Roy

Mark E. Roy
Ward 1 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas

Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas
Ward 2 Alderman (& NH State Senator) for Manchester, NH (2008).

Peter M. Sullivan

Peter M. Sullivan
Ward 3 (downtown) Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Jim Roy

Jim Roy
Ward 4 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Ed Osborne

Ed Osborne
Ward 5 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Real R. Pinard

Real R. Pinard
Ward 6 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

William P. Shea

William P. Shea
Ward 7 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Betsi DeVries

Betsi DeVries
Ward 8 Alder-woman (& NH State Senator) for Manchester, NH (2008).

Michael Garrity

Michael Garrity
Ward 9 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

George Smith

George Smith
Ward 10 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Russ Ouellette

Russ Ouellette
Ward 11 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Kelleigh (Domaingue) Murphy

Kelleigh (Domaingue) Murphy
Ward 12 Alder-woman for Manchester, NH (2008).

“Mike” Lopez

“Mike” Lopez
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH. (2008).

Daniel P. O’Neil

Daniel P. O’Neil
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Sarah Palin for Vice President.

Sarah Palin for Vice President.
Republican John McCain made the surprise pick of Alaska's governor Sarah Palin as his running mate today, August 29, 2008.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.
Congressman Olver said the country has spent well over a half-trillion dollars on the war in Iraq while the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. 8/25/08.

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!
John Kerry's 9/2008 challenger in the Democratic Primary.

Shays' Rebellion

Shays' Rebellion
In a tax revolt, Massachusetts farmers fought back during Shays' Rebellion in the mid-1780s after The American Revolutionary War.

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore
Actress. "The Big Lebowski" is one of my favorite movies. I also like "The Fugitive", too.

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"
Go to: http://www.berkshirefatherhood.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=699&cntnt01returnid=69

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"
The gap between rich and poor has widened substantially in Massachusetts over the past two decades. (8/15/2008).

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley
"The Bosley Amendment": To create tax loopholes for the wealthiest corporate interests in Massachusetts!

John Edwards and...

John Edwards and...
...Rielle Hunter. WHO CARES?!

Rep. Edward J. Markey

Rep. Edward J. Markey
He wants online-privacy legislation. Some Web Firms Say They Track Behavior Without Explicit Consent.

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan
She gained fame with her antiwar vigil outside the Bush ranch.

Olympics kick off in Beijing

Olympics kick off in Beijing
Go USA!

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall
In this May 1, 2008, file photo, a customer pumps gas at an Exxon station in Middleton, Mass. Exxon Mobil Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, July 31, the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation, but the results were well short of Wall Street expectations and its shares fell as markets opened. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File) 7/31/2008.

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'
Some kind of monster on Onota Lake. Five-year-old Tyler Smith rides a 'sea serpent' on Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Mass. The 'monster,' fashioned by Smith's grandfather, first appeared over July 4 weekend. (Photo courtesy of Ron Smith). 7/30/2008.

Al Gore, Jr.

Al Gore, Jr.
Al Gore issues challenge on energy

The Norman Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's financially wasteful pork barrel project!

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's pork barrel public works project cost 50 times more than the original price!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer
Note: Photo from Mary E Carey's Blog.

Tanglewood

Tanglewood
Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine.

Google

Google
Chagall

Jimmy Ruberto

Jimmy Ruberto
Faces multiple persecutions under the Massachusetts "Ethics" conflict of interest laws.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
Obama vows $500m in faith-based aid.

John McCain

John McCain
He is with his wife, Cindy, who were both met by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (right) upon arriving in Cartagena.

Daniel Duquette

Daniel Duquette
Sold Mayor James M. Ruberto of Pittsfield two tickets to the 2004 World Series at face value.

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008
Clinton tells Obama, crowd in Unity, N.H.: 'We are one party'

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Wanna-be Prez?

WALL-E

WALL-E
"out of this World"

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck
http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/popup?id=5057139&contentIndex=1&page=1&start=false - http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=5234555&page=1

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
NH's Democratic returning candidate for U.S. Senate

"Wall-E"

"Wall-E"
a cool robot

Ed O'Reilly

Ed O'Reilly
www.edoreilly.com

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
World Champions - 2008

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
J.D. Drew gets the same welcome whenever he visits the City of Brotherly Love: "Booooooo!"; Drew has been vilified in Philadelphia since refusing to sign with the Phillies after they drafted him in 1997...

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs
www.2joes.org

NH Union Leader

NH Union Leader
Editorial Cartoon

Celtics - World Champions!

Celtics - World Champions!
www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_18_08_front_pages/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_finals_game_6/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_celebration/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_15_08_celtics_championships/

"The Nation"

"The Nation"
A "Liberal" weekly political news magazine. Katrina vanden Heuvel.

TV - PBS: NOW

TV - PBS: NOW
http://www.pbs.org/now

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone
List of Twilight Zone episodes - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Twilight_Zone_episodes

Equality for ALL Marriages

Equality for ALL Marriages
I, Jonathan Melle, am a supporter of same sex marriages.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.
L.A. Lakers holds on for the win to force Game 6 at Boston

Mohawk Trail

Mohawk Trail
The 'Hail to the Sunrise' statue in Charlemont is a well-known and easily recognized landmark on the Mohawk Trail. The trail once boasted several souvenir shops, some with motels and restaurants. Now only four remain. (Caroline Bonnivier / Berkshire Eagle Staff).

NASA - June 14, 2008

NASA - June 14, 2008
Space Shuttle Discovery returns to Earth.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
Boston took a 20-second timeout, and the Celtics ran off four more points (including this incredible Erving-esque layup from Ray Allen) to build the lead to five points with just 2:10 remaining. Reeling, the Lakers took a full timeout to try to regain their momentum.

Sal DiMasi

Sal DiMasi
Speaker of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire
http://doj.nh.gov/

John Kerry

John Kerry
He does not like grassroots democracy & being challenged in the 2008 Massachusetts Democratic Party Primary for re-election.

Tim Murray

Tim Murray
Corrupt Lt. Gov. of Massachusetts, 2007 - 2013.

North Adams, Massachusetts

North Adams, Massachusetts
downtown

Howie Carr

Howie Carr
Political Satirist on Massachusetts Corruption/Politics

Polar Bear

Polar Bear
Global Warming

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Warren & http://www.creditslips.org/creditslips/WarrenAuthor.html

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
Consumer Crusader

Leon Powe

Leon Powe
Celtics forward Leon Powe finished a fast break with a dunk.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett reacted during the game.

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo finished a first half fast break with a dunk.

Teamwork

Teamwork
Los Angeles Lakers teammates help Pau Gasol (16) from the floor in the second quarter.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant took a shot in the first half of Game 2.

Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins (right) backed down Lamar Odom (left) during first half action.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the national anthem prior to Game 2.

K.G.!

K.G.!
Garnett reacted to a hard dunk in the first quarter.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce reacted after hitting a three upon his return to the game since leaving with an injury.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Kobe Bryant (left) and Paul Pierce (right) squared off in the second half of the game.

James Taylor

James Taylor
Sings National Anthem at Celtics Game.

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick
Attended Celtics Game.

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!
Attend Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis
The actor (left) and his date were in the crowd before the Celtics game.

John Kerry

John Kerry
Golddigger attends Celtics game

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Ends her 2008 bid for Democratic Party nomination

Nonnie Burnes

Nonnie Burnes
Massachusetts Insurance Commish & former Judge

Jones Library

Jones Library
Amherst, Massachusetts

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton
2008 Democratic Primary

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"
U.S. Senator John Sununu took more than $220,000 from big oil.

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
4- U.S. Senate - 2008

William Pignatelli

William Pignatelli
Hack Rep. "Smitty" with Lynne Blake

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke
Federal Reserve Chairman

Gazettenet.com

Gazettenet.com
www.gazettenet.com/beta/

Boys' & Girls' Club

Boys' & Girls' Club
Melville Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

The Berkshire Eagle

The Berkshire Eagle
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
Williams College - May 2008

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson
www.boston.com/lifestyle/gallery/when_the_celtics_were_cool/

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries
New Massachusetts state lottery game hits $600 million in sales!

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

John Barrett III

John Barrett III
Long-time Mayor of North Adams Massachusetts

Shine On

Shine On

Elmo

Elmo
cool!

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce kissed the Eastern Conference trophy. 5/30/2008. AP Photo.

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton
Kevin Garnett (left) talked to Pistons guard Richard Hamilton (right) after the Celtics' victory in Game 6. 5/30/2008. Reuters Photo.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce showed his team colors as the Celtics closed out the Pistons in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. 5/30/2008. Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis.

Joseph Kelly Levasseur

Joseph Kelly Levasseur
One of my favorite politicians!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
In the Big Apple: NYC! She is the coolest!

Guyer & Kerry

Guyer & Kerry
My 2nd least favorite picture EVER!

Mary Carey

Mary Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

Nuciforo & Ruberto

Nuciforo & Ruberto
My least favorite picture EVER!

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
U.S. Senate - 2008

NH Fisher Cats

NH Fisher Cats
AA Baseball - Toronto Blue Jays affiliate

Manchester, NH

Manchester, NH
Police Patch

Michael Briggs

Michael Briggs
#83 - We will never forget

Michael "Stix" Addison

Michael "Stix" Addison
http://unionleader.com/channel.aspx/News?channel=2af17ff4-f73b-4c44-9f51-092e828e1131

Charlie Gibson

Charlie Gibson
ABC News anchor

Scott McClellan

Scott McClellan
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/scott_mcclellan/index.html?inline=nyt-per

Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho
Downtown Boise Idaho

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Legislative Hearing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, BCC, on Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
My favorite classical U.S. President!

NH Governor John Lynch

NH Governor John Lynch
Higher Taxes, Higher Tolls

Paul Hodes

Paul Hodes
My favorite Congressman!

Portland Sea Dogs

Portland Sea Dogs
AA Red Sox

New York

New York
Magnet

Massachusetts

Massachusetts
Magnet

New Hampshire

New Hampshire
Magnet

New Hampshire

New Hampshire
Button

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
"Luciforo" tried to send me to Carmen's Jail during the Spring & Summer of 1998.

Kay Khan - Massachusetts State Representative

Kay Khan - Massachusetts State Representative
www.openmass.org/members/show/174

Luciforo

Luciforo
Andrea F Nuciforo II

B-Eagle

B-Eagle
Pittsfield's monopoly/only daily newspaper

Jon Lester - Go Red Sox!

Jon Lester - Go Red Sox!
A Red Sox No Hitter on 5/19/2008!

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Dustin Pedroia & Manny Ramirez

U.S. Flag

U.S. Flag
God Bless America!

Jonathan Melle's Blog

Jonathan Melle's Blog
Hello, Everyone!

Molly Bish

Molly Bish
We will never forget!

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo listens to some advice from Celtics head coach Doc Rivers in the first half.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace embrace at the end of the game.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon calls for the ball as he charges toward first base. Papelbon made the out en route to picking up his 14th save of the season.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka throws to Royals David DeJesus during the first inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka delivers a pitch to Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek during the second inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew is welcomed to home plate by teammates Mike Lowell (left), Kevin Youkilis (2nd left) and Manny Ramirez after he hit a grand slam in the second inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell crosses the plate after hitting a grand slam during the sixth inning. Teammates Manny Ramirez and Jacoby Ellsbury scored on the play. The Red Sox went on to win 11-8 to complete a four-game sweep and perfect homestand.

JD Drew - Go Red Sox

JD Drew - Go Red Sox
www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/gallery/05_22_08_sox_royals/

Thank you for serving; God Bless America!

Thank you for serving; God Bless America!
Master Sgt. Kara B. Stackpole, of Westfield, holds her daughter, Samantha, upon her return today to Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. She is one of the 38 members of the 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron who returned after a 4-month deployment in Iraq. Photo by Dave Roback / The Republican.

Kathi-Anne Reinstein

Kathi-Anne Reinstein
www.openmass.org/members/show/175

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy
Tragic diagnosis: Get well Senator!

Google doodle - Jonathan Melle Internet search

Google doodle - Jonathan Melle Internet search
http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&q=jonathan+melle+blogurl:http://jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/&ie=UTF-8

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Billionaire U.S. Senator gives address to MCLA graduates in North Adams, Massachusetts in mid-May 2008

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

A Red Sox Fan in Paris, France

A Red Sox Fan in Paris, France
Go Red Sox!

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Interviewed on local TV

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
Luciforo!

John Adams

John Adams
#2 U.S. President

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I stood under a tree on the afternoon of May 9, 2008, on the foregrounds of the NH State House - www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/nhinsider/vpost?id=2967773

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Inside the front lobby of the NH State House

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Bill Clinton campaign memorabilia

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Liberty Bell & NH State House

Jon Keller

Jon Keller
Boston based political analyst

Jon Keller

Jon Keller
Boston based political analyst

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Franklin Pierce Statue #14 U.S. President

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
NH State House

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Stop the War NOW!

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
"Mr. Melle, tear down this Blog!"

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I stood next to a JFK photo

Jonathan Levine, Publisher

Jonathan Levine, Publisher
The Pittsfield Gazette Online

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I made rabbit ears with John & George

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I made antenna ears with John & George

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I impersonated Howard Dean

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
mock-voting

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
pretty ladies -/- Go to: http://www.wgir.com/cc-common/cc_photopop20.html?eventID=28541&pagecontent=&pagenum=4 - Go to: http://current.com/items/88807921_veterans_should_come_first_not_last# - http://www.mcam23.com/cgi-bin/cutter.cgi?c_function=STREAM?c_feature=EDIT?dir_catagory=10MorningRadio?dir_folder=2JoesClips?dir_file=JonathanMelle-090308? -

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Go Red Sox! Me at Fenway Park

Mary E. Carey

Mary E. Carey
My favorite journalist! Her voice sings for the Voiceless. -/- Go to: http://aboutamherst.blogspot.com/search?q=melle -/- Go to: http://ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com/search?q=melle

Velvet Jesus

Velvet Jesus
Mary Carey blogs about my political writings. This is a picture of Jesus from her childhood home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. -//- "How Can I Keep From Singing" : My life goes on in endless song / Above Earth's lamentations, / I hear the real, though far-off hymn / That hails a new creation. / / Through all the tumult and the strife / I hear its music ringing, / It sounds an echo in my soul. / How can I keep from singing? / / Whey tyrants tremble in their fear / And hear their death knell ringing, / When friends rejoice both far and near / How can I keep from singing? / / In prison cell and dungeon vile / Our thoughts to them are winging / When friends by shame are undefiled / How can I keep from singing?

www.truthdig.com

www.truthdig.com
www.truthdig.com

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Concord NH

The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?type=loc&newest=1&addr=&zip=01201&search=Search

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
smiles & beer

Jonathan Lothrop

Jonathan Lothrop
A Pittsfield City Councilor

Michael L. Ward

Michael L. Ward
A Pittsfield City Councilor

Peter Marchetti - Pittsfield's City Councilor at Large

Peter Marchetti - Pittsfield's City Councilor at Large
Pete always sides with the wealthy's political interests.

Gerald Lee - Pittsfield's City Council Prez

Gerald Lee - Pittsfield's City Council Prez
Gerald Lee told me that I am a Social Problem; Lee executes a top-down system of governance.

Matt Kerwood - Pittsfield's Councilor at Large

Matt Kerwood - Pittsfield's Councilor at Large
Kerwood poured coffee drinks for Jane Swift

Louis Costi

Louis Costi
Pittsfield City Councilor

Lewis Markham

Lewis Markham
Pittsfield City Councilor

Kevin Sherman - Pittsfield City Councilor

Kevin Sherman - Pittsfield City Councilor
Sherman ran for Southern Berkshire State Rep against Smitty Pignatelli; Sherman is a good guy.

Anthony Maffuccio

Anthony Maffuccio
Pittsfield City Councilor

Linda Tyer

Linda Tyer
Pittsfield City Councilor

Daniel Bianchi

Daniel Bianchi
A Pittsfield City Councilor

The Democratic Donkey

The Democratic Donkey
Democratic Party Symbol

Paramount

Paramount
What is Paramount to you?

NH's Congresswoman

NH's Congresswoman
Carol Shea-Porter, Democrat

Sam Adams Beer

Sam Adams Beer
Boston Lager

Ratatouille

Ratatouille
Disney Animation

Ruberto Details Plans for Success - January 07, 2008

Ruberto Details Plans for Success - January 07, 2008
"Luciforo" swears in Mayor Ruberto. Pittsfield Politics at its very worst: 2 INSIDER POWERBROKERS! Where is Carmen Massimiano? He must be off to the side.

Abe

Abe
Lincoln

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime
Leader of the Autobots

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime
1984 Autobot Transformer Leader

Cleanup Agreements - GE & Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

Cleanup Agreements - GE & Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/cleanupagreement.html

GE/Housatonic River Site: Introduction

GE/Housatonic River Site: Introduction
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/

GE/Housatonic River Site - Reports

GE/Housatonic River Site - Reports
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/thesite/opca-reports.html

US EPA - Contact - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

US EPA - Contact -  Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/contactinfo.html

GE Corporate Logo - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

GE Corporate Logo - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/index.html

Commonwealth Connector

Commonwealth Connector
Commonwealth Care

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Healthcare Reform

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Healthcare Reform

Network Health Forward - A Commonwealth Care Plan

Network Health Forward - A Commonwealth Care Plan
Massachusetts Health Reform

Network Health Together: A MassHealth Plan - Commonwealth Care

Network Health Together: A MassHealth Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

www.network-health.org

www.network-health.org
Massachusetts Health Reform

Neighborhood Health Plan - Commonwealth Care

Neighborhood Health Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

Fallon Community Health Plan - Commonwealth Care

Fallon Community Health Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

BMC HealthNet Plan

BMC HealthNet Plan
Massachusetts Health Reform

Massachusetts Health Reform

Massachusetts Health Reform
Eligibility Chart: 2007

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare
Massachusetts Health Reform

Business Peaks

Business Peaks
Voodoo Economics

Laffer Curve - Corporate Elite

Laffer Curve - Corporate Elite
Reagonomics: Supply Side

Corporate Elite Propaganda

Corporate Elite Propaganda
Mock Liberal Democratic Socialism Thinking

Real Estate Blues

Real Estate Blues
www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/2008/0316/

PEACE

PEACE
End ALL Wars!

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech
Norman Rockwell's World War II artwork depicting America's values

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
A young Abe Lincoln

RACHEL KAPRIELIAN

RACHEL KAPRIELIAN
www.openmass.org/members/show/218 - www.rachelkaprielian.com

Jennifer M. Callahan - Massachusetts State Representative

Jennifer M. Callahan - Massachusetts State Representative
www.openmass.org/members/show/164 - www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/05/04/legislator_describes_threat_as_unnerving/

Human Rights for ALL Peoples!

Human Rights for ALL Peoples!
My #1 Political Belief!

Anne Frank

Anne Frank
Amsterdam, Netherlands, Europe

A young woman Hillary supporter

A young woman Hillary supporter
This excellent picture captures a youth's excitement

Hillary Clinton with Natalie Portman

Hillary Clinton with Natalie Portman
My favorite Actress!

Alan Chartock

Alan Chartock
WAMC public radio in Albany, NY; Political columnist who writes about Berkshire County area politics; Strong supporter for Human Rights for ALL Peoples

OpenCongress.Org

OpenCongress.Org
This web-site uses some of my Blog postings

OpenMass.org

OpenMass.org
This web-site uses some of my blog postings!

Shannon O'Brien

Shannon O'Brien
One of my favorite politicians! She stands for the People first!

The Massachusetts State House

The Massachusetts State House
"The Almighty Golden Dome" - www.masslegislature.tv -

Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway
Former Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
A corrupt Pol who tried to put me in Jail

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
Another view of Pittsfield's inbred, multigenerational political prince. Luciforo!

Luciforo

Luciforo
Nuciforo's nickname

"Andy" Nuciforo

"Andy" Nuciforo
Luciforo!

Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer)

Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer)
Nuciforo's henchman! Nuciforo tried to send me to Carmen's Jail

Andrea Nuciforo Jr

Andrea Nuciforo Jr
Shhh! Luciforo's other job is working as a private attorney defending wealthy Boston-area corporate insurance companies

Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.

Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.
Nuciforo tried to send me to Carmen's Jail! Carmen sits with the Congressman, John Olver

Congressman John Olver

Congressman John Olver
Nuciforo's envy

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol
Our Beacon of American Democracy

Nuciforo's architect

Nuciforo's architect
Mary O'Brien in red with scarf

Sara Hathaway (www.brynmawr.edu)

Sara Hathaway (www.brynmawr.edu)
Former-Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; Nuciforo intimidated her, along with another woman, from running in a democratic state election in the Spring of 2006!

Andrea F. Nuciforo II

Andrea F. Nuciforo II
Pittsfield Politics

Berkshire County Republican Association

Berkshire County Republican Association
Go to: www.fcgop.blogspot.com

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

John Forbes Kerry & Denis Guyer

John Forbes Kerry & Denis Guyer
U.S. Senator & State Representative

John Kerry

John Kerry
Endorses Barack Obama for Prez then visits Berkshire County

Dan Bosley

Dan Bosley
A Bureaucrat impostering as a Legislator!

Ben Downing

Ben Downing
Berkshire State Senator

Christopher N Speranzo

Christopher N Speranzo
Pittsfield's ANOINTED State Representative

Peter J. Larkin

Peter J. Larkin
Corrupt Lobbyist

GE - Peter Larkin's best friend!

GE - Peter Larkin's best friend!
GE's FRAUDULENT Consent Decree with Pittsfield, Massachusetts, will end up KILLING many innocent school children & other local residents!

GE's CEO Jack Welch

GE's CEO Jack Welch
The Corporate System's Corporate Elite's King

Economics: Where Supply meets Demand

Economics: Where Supply meets Demand
Equilibrium

GE & Pittsfield, Massachusetts

GE & Pittsfield, Massachusetts
In 2007, GE sold its Plastics Division to a Saudi company. Now all that is left over by GE are its toxic PCB pollutants that cause cancer in many Pittsfield residents.

Mayor James M Ruberto

Mayor James M Ruberto
A small-time pol chooses to serve the corporate elite & other elites over the people.

Governor Deval Patrick

Governor Deval Patrick
Deval shakes hands with Mayors in Berkshire County

Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick
Governor of Massachusetts

Pittsfield High School

Pittsfield High School
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway
Pittsfield's former Mayor

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Pittsfield Attorney focusing on Father's Rights Probate Court Legal Issues, & Local Politician and Political Observer

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Very Intelligent Political Activists in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Esq. is the spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition. He has been practicing family law and has been a member of the Massachusetts bar since 1996.

Mayor Ed Reilly

Mayor Ed Reilly
He supports Mayor Ruberto & works as a municipal Attorney. As Mayor, he backed Bill Weld for Governor in 1994, despite being a Democrat. He was joined by Carmen Massimiano & John Barrett III, the long-standing Mayor of North Adams.

Manchester, NH Mayor Frank Guinta

Manchester, NH Mayor Frank Guinta
Cuts Dental Care for Public School Children-in-Need

Manchester, NH City Hall

Manchester, NH City Hall
My new hometown - view from Hanover St. intersection with Elm St.

Manchester NH City Democrats

Manchester NH City Democrats
Go Dems!

2008 Democratic Candidates for U.S. Prez

2008 Democratic Candidates for U.S. Prez
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards

NH State House Dome

NH State House Dome
Concord, NH

Donna Walto

Donna Walto
Pittsfield Politician -- She strongly opposes Mayor Jim Ruberto's elitist tenure.

Elmo

Elmo
Who doesn't LOVE Elmo?

Hillary Clinton for U.S. President!

Hillary Clinton for U.S. President!
Hillary is for Children. She is my choice in 2008.

The White House in 1800

The White House in 1800
Home of our Presidents of the United States

John Adams

John Adams
2nd President of the USA

Hillary Clinton stands with John Edwards and Joe Biden

Hillary Clinton stands with John Edwards and Joe Biden
Hillary is my choice for U.S. President!

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Radisson in Manchester NH 11/16/2007

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
U.S. Senator & Candidate for President

Pittsfield's 3 Women City Councillors - 2004

Pittsfield's 3 Women City Councillors - 2004
Linda Tyer, Pam Malumphy, Tricia Farley-Bouvier

Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
My friend Brian Merzbach reviews baseball parks around the nation.

The Corporate Elite: Rational Incentives for only the wealthy

The Corporate Elite: Rational Incentives for only the wealthy
The Elites double their $ every 6 to 8 years, while the "have-nots" double their $ every generation (or 24 years). Good bye Middle Class!

George Will

George Will
The human satellite voice for the Corporate Elite

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
The Anti-George Will; Harvard Law School Professor; The Corporate Elite's Worst Nightmare

The Flag of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Flag of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
I was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

State Senator Stan Rosenberg

State Senator Stan Rosenberg
Democratic State Senator from Amherst, Massachusetts -/- Anti-Stan Rosenberg Blog: rosenbergwatch.blogspot.com

Ellen Story

Ellen Story
Amherst Massachusetts' State Representative

Teen Pregnancy in Pittsfield, Mass.

Teen Pregnancy in Pittsfield, Mass.
Books are being written on Pittsfield's high teen pregancy rates! What some intellectuals do NOT understand about the issue is that TEEN PREGNANCIES in Pittsfield double the statewide average by design - Perverse Incentives!

NH Governor John Lynch

NH Governor John Lynch
Supports $30 Scratch Tickets and other forms of regressive taxation. Another Pol that only serves his Corporate Elite Masters instead of the People!

U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter

U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter
The first woman whom the People of New Hampshire have voted in to serve in U.S. Congress

U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes

U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes
A good man who wants to bring progressive changes to Capitol Hill!

Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress

Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress
New Hampshire's finest!

Darth Vader

Darth Vader
Star Wars

Dick Cheney & George W. Bush

Dick Cheney & George W. Bush
The Gruesome Two-some! Stop the Neo-Cons' fascism! End the Iraq War NOW!

WAROPOLY

WAROPOLY
The Inequity of Globalism

Bushopoly!

Bushopoly!
The Corporate Elite have redesigned "The System" to enrich themselves at the expense of the people, masses, have-nots, poor & middle-class families

George W. Bush with Karl Rove

George W. Bush with Karl Rove
Rove was a political strategist with extraordinary influence within the Bush II White House

2008's Republican Prez-field

2008's Republican Prez-field
John McCain, Alan Keyes, Rudy Guiliani, Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, WILLARD Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul

Fall in New England

Fall in New England
Autumn is my favorite season

Picturing America

Picturing America
picturingamerica.neh.gov

Winter Weather Map

Winter Weather Map
3:45PM EST 3-Dec-07

Norman Rockwell Painting

Norman Rockwell Painting
Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell Painting

Norman Rockwell Painting
Depiction of American Values in mid-20th Century America

Larry Bird #33

Larry Bird #33
My favorite basketball player of my childhood

Boston Celtics Basketball - 2007-2008

Boston Celtics Basketball - 2007-2008
Kevin Garnett hugs James Posey

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
All heart! Awesome basketball star for The Boston Celtics.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady
Go Patriots!

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch
Owner of Fox News - CORPORATE ELITE!

George Stephanopolous

George Stephanopolous
A Corporate Elite Political News Analyst

Robert Redford

Robert Redford
Starred in the movie "Lions for Lambs"

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep
Plays a jaded journalist with integrity in the movie "Lions for Lambs"

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise plays the Neo-Con D.C. Pol purely indoctrinated by the Corporate Elite's political agenda in the Middle East

CHARLIZE THERON

CHARLIZE THERON
"I want to say I've never been surrounded by so many fake breasts, but I went to the Academy Awards."

Amherst Town Library

Amherst Town Library
Amherst, NH - www.amherstlibrary.org

Manchester NH Library

Manchester NH Library
I use the library's automated timed 1-hour-per-day Internet computers to post on my Blog - www.manchester.lib.nh.us

Manchester NH's Palace Theater

Manchester NH's Palace Theater
Manchester NH decided to restore its Palace Theater

Pittsfield's Palace Theater

Pittsfield's Palace Theater
Pittsfield tore down this landmark on North Street in favor of a parking lot

Pleasant Street Theater

Pleasant Street Theater
Amherst, Massachusetts

William "Shitty" Pignatelli

William "Shitty" Pignatelli
A top down & banal State House Pol from Lenox Massachusetts -- A GOOD MAN!

The CIA & Mind Control

The CIA & Mind Control
Did the CIA murder people by proxy assassins?

Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones
Yale's Elite

ImpeachBush.org

ImpeachBush.org
I believe President Bush should be IMPEACHED because he is waging an illegal and immoral war against Iraq!

Bob Feuer drumming for U.S. Congress v John Olver in 2008

Bob Feuer drumming for U.S. Congress v John Olver in 2008
www.blog.bobfeuer.us

Abe Lincoln

Abe Lincoln
The 16th President of the USA

Power

Power
Peace

Global Warming Mock Giant Thermometer

Global Warming Mock Giant Thermometer
A member of Green Peace activist sets up a giant thermometer as a symbol of global warming during their campaign in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007. World leaders launch marathon negotiations Monday on how to fight global warming, which left unchecked could cause devastating sea level rises, send millions further into poverty and lead to the mass extinction of plants and animals.

combat global warming...

combat global warming...
...or risk economic and environmental disaster caused by rising temperatures

www.climatecrisiscoalition.org

www.climatecrisiscoalition.org
P.O. Box 125, South Lee, MA 01260, (413) 243-5665, tstokes@kyotoandbeyond.org, www.kyotoandbeyond.org

3 Democratic presidentional candidates

3 Democratic presidentional candidates
Democratic presidential candidates former senator John Edwards (from right) and Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd before the National Public Radio debate yesterday (12/4/2007).

The UN Seal

The UN Seal
An archaic & bureaucratic post WW2 top-down, non-democratic institution that also stands for some good governance values

Superman

Superman
One of my favorite childhood heroes and movies

Web-Site on toxic toys

Web-Site on toxic toys
www.healthytoys.org

Batman

Batman
One of my favorite super-heroes

Deval Patrick & Denis Guyer

Deval Patrick & Denis Guyer
Massachusetts' Governor stands with Dalton's State Rep. Denis E. Guyer.

Bill Cosby & Denis Guyer

Bill Cosby & Denis Guyer
TV Star Bill Cosby stands with Denis E. Guyer

Denis Guyer with his supporters

Denis Guyer with his supporters
Dalton State Representative

Denis Guyer goes to college

Denis Guyer goes to college
Dalton State Representative

Peter Marchetti

Peter Marchetti
He is my second cousin. Pete Marchetti favors MONEY, not fairness!

Matt Barron & Denis Guyer with couple

Matt Barron & Denis Guyer with couple
Matt Barron plays DIRTY politics against his opponents!

Nat Karns

Nat Karns
Top-Down Executive Director of the ELITIST Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

Human Rights for All Peoples & people

Human Rights for All Peoples & people
Stop Anti-Semitism

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill
State House, Room 227, Boston, MA 02133, 617-367-6900, www.mass.gov/treasury/

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley
1350 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01103, 413-784-1240 / McCormick Building, One Asburton Place, Boston, MA 02108, 617-727-4765 / marthacoakley.com / www.ago.state.ma.us

Bush v. Gore: December 12, 2007, was the seventh anniversary, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision...

Bush v. Gore: December 12, 2007, was the seventh anniversary, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision...
www.takebackthecourt.org - A political billboard near my downtown apartment in Manchester, NH

Marc Murgo

Marc Murgo
An old friend of mine from Pittsfield

Downtown Manchester, NH

Downtown Manchester, NH
www.newhampshire.com/nh-towns/manchester.aspx

Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei
Movie Actress

Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC)

Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC)
www.masschc.org/issue.php

Mike Firestone & Anna Weisfeiler

Mike Firestone & Anna Weisfeiler
Mike Firestone works in Manchester NH for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign

James Pindell

James Pindell
Covers NH Primary Politcs for The Boston Globe

U.S. History - Declaration

U.S. History - Declaration
A 19th century engraving shows Benjamin Franklin, left, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman at work on the Declaration of Independence.

Boston Globe Photos of the Week - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/gallery/

Boston Globe Photos of the Week - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/gallery/
Sybregje Palenstijn (left), who plays Sarah Godbertson at Plimouth Plantation, taught visitors how to roast a turkey on a spit. The plantation often sees a large influx of visitors during the holiday season.

Chris Hodgkins

Chris Hodgkins
Another special interest Berkshire Pol who could not hold his "WATER" on Beacon Hill's State House!

The Big Dig - 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto Milena Del Valle's car.

The Big Dig - 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto Milena Del Valle's car.
Most of Boston's Big Dig highway remains closed, after a woman was crushed when 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto her car. (ABC News)

Jane Swift

Jane Swift
Former Acting Governor of Massachusetts & Berkshire State Senator

Paul Cellucci

Paul Cellucci
Former Massachusetts Governor

William Floyd Weld

William Floyd Weld
$80 Million Trust Fund Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mike Dukakis

Mike Dukakis
Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mary E. Carey

Mary E. Carey
Amherst, Massachusetts, Journalist and Blogger

Caveman

Caveman
www.ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com

Peter G. Arlos

Peter G. Arlos
"The biggest challenge Pittsfield faces is putting its fiscal house in order. The problem is that doing so requires structural changes in local government, many of which I have advocated for years, but which officials do not have the will to implement. Fiscal responsibility requires more than shifting funds from one department to another. Raising taxes and fees and cutting services are not the answer. Structural changes in the way services are delivered and greater productivity are the answer, and without these changes the city's fiscal crisis will not be solved."

James M. Ruberto

James M. Ruberto
"Pittsfield's biggest challenge is to find common ground for a better future. The city is at a crossroads. On one hand, our quality of life is challenged. On the other hand, some important building blocks are in place that could be a strong foundation for our community. Pittsfield needs to unite for the good of its future. The city needs an experienced businessman and a consensus builder who will invite the people to hold him accountable."

Matt Kerwood

Matt Kerwood
Pittsfield's Councilor-At-Large. Go to: extras.berkshireeagle.com/NeBe/profiles/12.htm

Gerald M. Lee

Gerald M. Lee
Pittsfield's City Council Prez. Top-down governance of the first order!

Mary Carey

Mary Carey
Mary with student

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox
Jonathan Papelbon celebrates with Jason Varitek

Free Bernard Baran!

Free Bernard Baran!
www.freebaran.org

Political Intelligence

Political Intelligence
Capitol Hill

Sherwood Guernsey II

Sherwood Guernsey II
Wealthy Williamstown Political Activist & Pittsfield Attorney

Mary Carey 2

Mary Carey 2
California Pol & porn star

Pittsfield's Good Old Boy Network - Political Machine!

Pittsfield's Good Old Boy Network - Political Machine!
Andy "Luciforo" swears in Jimmy Ruberto for the returning Mayor's 3rd term

Berkshire Grown

Berkshire Grown
www.berkshiregrown.org

Rambo

Rambo

The Mount was built in 1902 & was home to Edith Wharton (1862-1937) from 1903 to 1908.

The Mount was built in 1902 & was home to Edith Wharton (1862-1937) from 1903 to 1908.
The Mount, the historic home in Lenox of famed American novelist Edith Wharton, is facing foreclosure.